Cieminski, Amie B.
Rude, Harvey A.
Lawrence, Jody K.
Program of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Federal legislation and public awareness have pushed teacher evaluation into the spotlight as a strategy for improving schools (Marzano & Toth, 2013). Mounting evidence to support the importance of the classroom teacher, the shift in focus to accountability for student learning, and the dismal state of teacher evaluation at the turn of the 21st century created the foundation for a federal impetus for teacher evaluation reform (Hallinger, Heck, & Murphy, 2014; Marzano & Toth, 2013; Murphy, Hallinger, & Heck, 2013; Papay, 2012). Much of the policy debate focused on teacher evaluation as a method of assessing and measuring teacher performance in order to hold teachers accountable for student learning (Papay, 2012). However, the greatest impact on student learning comes from a focus on how effective implementation of these new evaluation systems supports the development of teachers to raise the instructional quality in American classrooms (Kraft & Gilmour, 2016a; Papay, 2012). In this qualitative collective case study, I used a constructionist framework to investigate the teacher evaluation practices that promoted teacher development at the middle school level. I selected two middle schools, or cases, and the respective school districts utilizing a criterion sampling strategy in order to study information-rich cases (LeCompte, Preissle, & Tesch, 1993; Stake, 1995). I conducted semi-structured interviews of teachers, school leaders, and school district leaders to better understand the teacher evaluation practices that promoted teacher development. I also analyzed teacher evaluation documents in both school districts, observed professional development meetings or workshops at both schools, and collected teacher perceptions about teacher evaluation and teacher development via an anonymous questionnaire sent to all teachers at both schools. The iterative data analysis process included both a cross-case and within-case analyses. Through these analyses five themes emerged: a belief-based vision for teacher evaluation; supportive leaders that cultivated a culture of professional learning; teachers as leaders of their own learning; the alignment of teacher evaluation, professional development, and school goals; and teacher experiences insulated from policy changes, by design. These findings have implications that school and school district leaders may want to consider when designing and implementing a teacher evaluation system to promote teacher development. School district leaders and school leaders should consider the importance of the interplay between school culture and teacher evaluation as well as the role of relationships within a transformational leadership model. Specifically, school leaders should think about creating a culture of professional learning within the context of a positive school culture and should consider building strong relationships in order to better promote teacher development through teacher evaluation and to support teacher engagement in professional learning.
Copyright is held by the author.