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Title:A mixed methods study of teacher evaluation reforms and micropolitics in Illinois
Author(s):Conrad, David Lee
Director of Research:Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Roegman, Rachel; Shriner, James; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Teacher Evaluation
Education Policy
Teacher Improvement
Abstract:National studies have shown that most teachers receive summative evaluation ratings of “satisfactory” or “excellent,” but more are underperforming than evaluation data indicate (Kraft & Gilmour, 2017). Illinois enacted education reforms known as Senate Bill 7 (SB7) and the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) that required the inclusion of student growth as a significant factor in evaluation processes, and policy advocates called for rigorous teacher evaluations to improve or remove underperforming educators from the classroom (Regenstein, 2011). Since the reforms have been enacted, Illinois policymakers have minimal information to determine whether these reforms have adequately addressed concerns about educator underperformance. The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of teacher evaluation, focusing on how micropolitics have influenced the implementation of teacher evaluation reforms in Illinois. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design with the follow-up explanation variant was selected to collect data in two phases. The study examined two research questions: 1) to what extent has the implementation of teacher evaluation reforms affected the frequency of identifying underperforming teachers in Illinois public schools, and 2) how have micropolitical factors influenced principals in the identification of underperforming teachers in Illinois since the implementation of teacher evaluation reforms. The study used a conceptual framework based on education policy implementation theory (Honig, 2006) and micropolitics of personnel evaluation (Bridges & Groves, 1999). In the quantitative phase, 89 superintendents responded to a questionnaire requesting data from 2006-2007 through 2016-2017 on remediation plans, Professional Development Plans, and dismissals in their districts. Findings revealed trends showing small increases in the use of improvement levers and teacher dismissals following implementation of teacher evaluation reforms, but the number of underperforming educators identified was low compared to estimates of underperformance by evaluators and the literature. In the qualitative phase, 20 principals were interviewed about the influence of micropolitics on their implementation of evaluation reforms. The principals reported that joint committees in their districts created procedures for student growth measures and summative ratings that were favorable to educators, which ultimately increased the teachers’ overall summative evaluation ratings. Second, strategic decisions by evaluators included deferral of low summative ratings due to pending retirements, avoidance or discomfort to hold difficult conversations regarding teacher underperformance, and the increased workload and paperwork involved with the teacher evaluation process and development and monitoring of improvement plans. Finally, principals reported that, although teachers and unions advocated for their interests in designing the procedures, they believed all parties shared a mutual interest in having quality teachers in the classroom. Several recommendations for policy development, professional practice, and further study are presented.
Issue Date:2018-07-12
Rights Information:© 2018 David Lee Conrad
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08

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