Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Anne McGill-Franzen

Committee Members

Richard Allington, Kristin Rearden, Ralph Brockett

Abstract

Teacher effectiveness has become a national conversation and an issue that is debated in both public and educational arenas. Recently, the notion has arisen to quantify teacher effectiveness through the measurement of both teacher and student performance. This study focuses on one state’s initial attempt to implement a policy reform that measures a teacher’s performance both qualitatively, through scored classroom observations, and quantitatively, through student achievement scores. Ultimately, the idea is that these scores could then be used to make important decisions about salary, retention, and tenure. Using qualitative ethnographic research procedures within a framework of critical theory, I studied 8 first grade teachers and their experiences with Tennessee’s Education Acceleration Model (TEAM). I specifically sought to understand the following: 1) the commonalities amongst teachers experiences with the TEAM evaluation, 2) the commonalities in teachers’ perceptions of the influence of TEAM on literacy instruction, and 3) how the context of teachers work may complicate teacher perceptions of the influence of TEAM. Interviews, observations, artifacts, and public documents were the primary sources of data for this study.

Results indicated that the implications of policy implementation may be less cut and dry than policy makers might hope. While the hope might be that policy translates directly into change in classroom practice, this study demonstrated otherwise. The amount of change varied greatly from school to school and teacher to teacher and was highly dependent on teacher belief and context. For the most part, teachers tended not to disregard literacy practices they saw as valid just because policy required them to do so. These findings indicate that policy makers might be wise to consider teacher autonomy as well as teacher in-put. Likewise, there are indications that appropriate professional development might assist in scaffolding a new policy implementation.

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