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Title:Principal sensemaking of policy reform in Illinois: Focused supervision and evaluation of teachers
Author(s):Weck, Kevin R.
Director of Research:Hackmann, Donald
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hackmann, Donald
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sloat, Linda; Welton, Anjalé; Herrera, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ed.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Central Office Administration
5-Essentials Survey
Joint Committee
Lunch and Learn Meetings
Period by Period Meetings
Policy Implementation
Sensemaking
Trust
Abstract:The current educational climate of increased accountability requires school principals to improve student learning for all students, implement national and state policies, maintain a positive culture, provide professional development, and supervise and evaluate faculty members. In order to improve learning in schools, education reform mandates have placed increased accountability on teachers and administrators. The overwhelming number of responsibilities placed on principals affects their ability to make sense of mandates and effective leadership practices. These challenging demands have transformed how effective leaders support professional development of faculty and monitor student growth benchmarks. The purpose of this multi-site case study was to examine how central office administrators promote high school principals’ sensemaking of teacher evaluation systems that are focused on student growth, which assists them with implementing these evaluation reforms within their respective schools. This study, which included interviews, observations, and document analysis, examined how two high school principals from different public school districts in Illinois implemented the mandated changes to the teacher evaluation process through sensemaking. The purpose of this study was to examine how central office administrators promote high school principals’ sensemaking of teacher evaluation systems that are focused on student growth, which assists them with implementing these evaluation reforms within their respective schools. It was important to explore how central office administrators provided support systems for principals as they implemented changes to the teacher evaluation process, as mandated by Illinois legislation. In the two case study sites, perspectives from the superintendent, central office administrators, the building principal, department chairs/division heads, union leaders, and teachers were analyzed to have a clear understanding of principal sensemaking and whether the implementation process was effective. Data were collected through individual interviews with the superintendents, central office administrators, assistant principals and building principals. Also, data were collected through focus group interviews conducted with the department chairs/division heads and teachers. District- and building-level documents pertaining to the teacher evaluation process and philosophy were collected and analyzed. Observations at both sites related to teacher evaluation and professional development were conducted as a third source of data collection. The participants included the two superintendents, one Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, one Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, two principals, two assistant principals, three department chairs, two division heads, and nine teachers. Two of the nine teachers were union leaders within their district. The data collected from both districts’ teacher evaluation processes were analyzed across cases. Findings confirmed that central office administrators in the two districts supported principal sensemaking of the new teacher evaluation mandates in various practices and behaviors to ensure that district evaluation policies were implemented effectively. Both districts implemented a dramatically different student growth component that met Illinois mandated requirements. One approach for student growth was an “all-in approach” that is monitored by central office administrators, while the other district required teachers to set up and monitor goals based on their individual student populations. The Forest District approach to teacher evaluation required individual teachers to monitor student learning goals and targets particular to their Professional Learning Community team and within their specific student population. The process was clearly communicated, with specific student performance goals tied to their summative evaluation. The River District evaluation process entailed district benchmarks that determine whether all teachers in each high school of the district qualify for an excellent rating. The all-in approach did not require teachers to monitor individual student performance data and summative evaluations did not include student growth goals pertaining to an individual teacher’s class assignments. The all-in approach satisfied the state requirements and aligned with the state’s criteria for assessing schools. Principals supported the policies determined by their respective central office administrators and the Joint Committees from each district. The findings from this study suggest that effective principal sensemaking depends on communication, collaboration, and trust. All stakeholders from both districts communicated that there was initial trepidation and concern regarding the new mandates. However, after experiencing the pilot programs and nearly two years of implementation, an increased sense of confidence and trust that has developed between the high school principals and faculty in both districts.
Issue Date:2019-04-18
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/104842
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Kevin Weck
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05


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