Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Pamela S. Angelle

Committee Members

J. Patrick Biddix, Dennis Ciancio, Mary Lynne Derrington

Abstract

This concurrent mixed methods study examined principal perceptions of the teacher tenure law in Tennessee. The study examined the perceptions of K-12 public school principals toward the Tennessee teacher tenure law under Senate Bill 1528 and how principals perceived that the law has affected their ability to evaluate and retain effective teachers. The investigation followed a concurrent mixed methods design (QUAN + QUAL). The Tennessee Teacher Tenure Principal Perception Survey was adopted and slightly modified from Davidson’s (1998) study of principal perceptions of teacher tenure in Tennessee. At the conclusion of data analysis, findings were integrated and triangulated through Hess’ (1999) political attractiveness of reform framework.

Quantitative results found that the majority of principals have positive perceptions of the Tennessee teacher tenure law. Interviews with principals added insight to the findings of the quantitative phase and integrated findings affirmed quantitative results. Principals characterized the teacher tenure law has having a positive impact on their ability to evaluate and retain effective teachers despite having some barriers associated with the teacher evaluation system. While principals expressed positive perceptions of the overall evaluation and tenure system, principals generally felt that tenure is no longer a valuable construct and holds little negative influence over their ability to evaluate, retain, or dismiss teachers just so long as they are doing their jobs as principals. Previous levels of controversy and visibility that once surrounded tenure prior to the law’s change in 2011 have withered and the new system is perceived to be having a positive impact on the quality of education in Tennessee. Results indicated that future reform efforts by the state should focus on collecting principal perceptions for ways to improve upon barriers currently facing implementation of the teacher evaluation system. The study concludes with a model for helping predict the success of reform in Tennessee and provides implications for its use along with recommendations for future research. Results from this study highlight that future research and reform should focus on the use of stakeholder and principal perception data in policy initiatives and education agendas at the school building, community, and state levels.

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