Matching Items (9)

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Teacher evaluation systems: how teachers and teacher quality are (re)defined by market-based discourses

Description

Teacher evaluation policies have recently shifted in the United States. For the first time in history, many states, districts, and administrators are now required to evaluate teachers by methods that

Teacher evaluation policies have recently shifted in the United States. For the first time in history, many states, districts, and administrators are now required to evaluate teachers by methods that are up to 50% based on their "value-added," as demonstrated at the classroom-level by growth on student achievement data over time. Other related instruments and methods, such as classroom observations and rubrics, have also become common practices in teacher evaluation systems. Such methods are consistent with the neoliberal discourse that has dominated the social and political sphere for the past three decades. Employing a discourse analytic approach that called upon a governmentality framework, the author used a complementary approach to understand how contemporary teacher evaluation polices, practices, and instruments work to discursively (re)define teachers and teacher quality in terms of their market value.

For the first part of the analysis, the author collected and analyzed documents and field notes related to the teacher evaluation system at one urban middle school. The analysis included official policy documents, official White House speeches and press releases, evaluation system promotional materials, evaluator training materials, and the like. For the second part of the analysis, she interviewed teachers and their evaluators at the local middle school in order to understand how the participants had embodied the market-based discourse to define themselves as teachers and qualify their practice, quality, and worth accordingly.

The findings of the study suggest that teacher evaluation policies, practices, and instruments make possible a variety of techniques, such as numericization, hierarchical surveillance, normalizing judgments, and audit, in order to first make teachers objects of knowledge and then act upon that knowledge to manage teachers' conduct. The author also found that teachers and their evaluators have taken up this discourse in order to think about and act upon themselves as responsibilized subjects. Ultimately, the author argues that while much of the attention related to teacher evaluations has focused on the instruments used to measure the construct of teacher quality, that teacher evaluation instruments work in a mutually constitutive ways to discursively shape the construct of teacher quality.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Arizona's mature education market: how school and community stakeholders make meaning of school choice policies

Description

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years.

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years. Arizona’s long-standing public school choice system enrolls a higher percentage of public school students in charter schools than any state besides Washington D.C. A growing number of Arizona’s charter schools are managed by for-profit and nonprofit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). Advocates of school choice argue that free-market education approaches will make public schools competitive and nimble as parents’ choices place pressures on schools to improve or close. This, then, improves all schools: public, private, and charter. Critics are concerned that education markets produce segregation along racial and social class lines and inequalities in educational opportunities, because competition favors advantaged parents and children who can access resources. Private and for-profit schools may see it in their interest to exclude students who require more support. School choice programs, then, may further marginalize students who live in poverty, who receive special education services, and English language learners.

We do not fully understand how Arizona’s mature school choice system affects parents and other stakeholders in communities “on the ground.” That is, how are school policies understood and acted out? I used ethnographic methods to document and analyze the social, cultural, and political contexts and perspectives of stakeholders at one district public school and in its surrounding community, including its charter schools. I examined: (a) how stakeholders perceived and engaged with schools; (b) how stakeholders understood school policies, including school choice policies; and (c) what influenced families’ choices.

Findings highlight how most stakeholders supported district public schools. At the same time, some “walked the line” between choices that were good for their individual families and those they believed were good for public schools and society. Stakeholders imagined “community” and “accountability” in a range of ways, and they did not all have equal access to policy knowledge. Pressures related to parental accountability in the education market were apparent as stakeholders struggled to make, and sometimes revisit, their choices, creating a tenuous schooling environment for their families.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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A study of school finance in Arizona: equity, English language learners, and the allocation of funding

Description

ABSTRACT

Closing the achievement gap between low-income, marginalized, racially, and linguistically diverse students has proven difficult. Research has outlined the effects of funding on student achievement in a manner that focuses

ABSTRACT

Closing the achievement gap between low-income, marginalized, racially, and linguistically diverse students has proven difficult. Research has outlined the effects of funding on student achievement in a manner that focuses the attention on dollars expended, in order overcome barriers to learning. Arizona has long been recognized for its education funding disparity, and its inability to balance fiscal capacity in a manner that serves to improve educational outcomes.

This dissertation examines how Arizona funds its education system. It measures horizontal inequity in a robust manner by examining those fiscal capacity resources directly related to learning and poverty. Recognizing districts with higher concentrations of special needs students will impact fiscal capacity at the district level, this dissertation applies a non-linear analysis to measure how English language learners/ limited English proficient (ELL/ LEP) student proportionality impacts federal and state revenue per pupil, ELL expenditures per pupil, and total expenditures per pupil.

Using the Gini Ratio, McCloone Index, Coefficient of Variation, and Theil inequality index, this dissertation confirms that significant education funding disparity exists across Arizona’s school districts. This dissertation also shows the proportion of English language learners is negatively related to local revenue per pupil, and ELL expenditures per ELL pupil.

Arizona has characteristically funded the public education system inequitably and positioned its students in a manner that stratifies achievement gaps based on wealth. Targeted funding toward ELLs is in no way meaningfully related to the proportion of ELLs in a district. Conceptually the way in which equity is defined, and measured, may require re-evaluation, beyond correlated inputs and outputs. This conceptual re-evaluation of equity must include the decision making process of administrative leaders which influence the quality of those resources related to student learning.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Eliminating Racism in Pinecreek?: Civic Participation in Local Education Policy

Description

The purpose of this study was to understand how community members within a segregated school district approached racial inequities. I conducted a ¬nineteen-month-long ethnography using a critical Participatory Action Research

The purpose of this study was to understand how community members within a segregated school district approached racial inequities. I conducted a ¬nineteen-month-long ethnography using a critical Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach to explore how members in a community activist group called Eliminate Racism interacted and worked with school district officials. My goal was to identify and examine how community members addressed racially inequitable policies and practices in the Midwestern city of Pinecreek (pseudonym) in the context of a school district that had undergone two school desegregation lawsuits. I conducted 32 interviews with 24 individuals, including teachers and school leaders, parents, and community members.

This study answers three research questions: (1) What strategies did the community activist group use to influence local education policy for addressing racism in the schools? (2) How did community participation influence local education policy? (3) What were the motivating factors for individuals’ involvement in issues of local school segregation? To answer these questions, I used concepts from Critical Race Theory and Social Capital Theory. I employ Putnam’s and Putnam and Campbell’s social capital, Warren’s civic participation, Bonilla-Silva’s color-blind racism, Yosso’s community cultural wealth and religio-civics. My analysis shows that the community group used the social capital and community cultural wealth of its members to create partnerships with district officials. Although Eliminate Racism did not meet its goals, it established itself as a legitimate organization within the community, successfully drawing together residents throughout the city to bring attention to racism in the schools.

The study’s results encourage school and district leaders to constantly bring race to the forefront of their decision-making processes and to question how policy implementation affects minoritized students. This research also suggests that strategies from this community group can be adopted or avoided by other antiracist groups undertaking similar work. Finally, it provides an example of how to employ critical PAR methods into ethnography, as it notes the ways that researcher positionality and status can be leveraged by community groups to support the legitimacy of their mission and work.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Houston, we have a problem: studying the SAS Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) from teachers' perspectives in the Houston Independent School District (HISD)

Description

This study examined the intended and unintended consequences associated with the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) as perceived and experienced by teachers in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). To

This study examined the intended and unintended consequences associated with the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) as perceived and experienced by teachers in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). To evaluate teacher effectiveness, HISD is using EVAAS for high-stakes consequences more than any other district or state in the country. A large-scale electronic survey was used to investigate the model's reliability and validity; to determine whether teachers used the EVAAS data in formative ways as intended; to gather teachers' opinions on EVAAS's claimed benefits and statements; and to understand the unintended consequences that occurred as a result of EVAAS use in HISD. Mixed methods data collection and analyses were used to present the findings in user-friendly ways, particularly when using the words and experiences of the teachers themselves. Results revealed that the reliability of the EVAAS model produced split and inconsistent results among teacher participants, and teachers indicated that students biased the EVAAS results. The majority of teachers did not report similar EVAAS and principal observation scores, reducing the criterion-related validity of both measures of teacher quality. Teachers revealed discrepancies in the distribution of EVAAS reports, the awareness of trainings offered, and among principals' understanding of EVAAS across the district. This resulted in an underwhelming number of teachers who reportedly used EVAAS data for formative purposes. Teachers disagreed with EVAAS marketing claims, implying the majority did not believe EVAAS worked as intended and promoted. Additionally, many unintended consequences associated with the high-stakes use of EVAAS emerged through teachers' responses, which revealed among others that teachers felt heightened pressure and competition, which reduced morale and collaboration, and encouraged cheating or teaching to the test in attempt to raise EVAAS scores. This study is one of the first to investigate how the EVAAS model works in practice and provides a glimpse of whether value-added models might produce desired outcomes and encourage best teacher practices. This is information of which policymakers, researchers, and districts should be aware and consider when implementing the EVAAS, or any value-added model for teacher evaluation, as many of the reported issues are not specific to the EVAAS model.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Investigating a teacher evaluation system: school administrator and teacher perceptions of the system's standards of effectiveness

Description

Increasing public criticism of traditional teacher evaluation systems based largely on classroom observations has spurred an unprecedented shift in the debate surrounding educational accountability policies, specifically about the purposes for

Increasing public criticism of traditional teacher evaluation systems based largely on classroom observations has spurred an unprecedented shift in the debate surrounding educational accountability policies, specifically about the purposes for and measures used to evaluate teachers. In response to growing public demand and associated federal mandates, states have been prompted to design and implement teacher evaluation systems that use increasingly available, statistically complex models (i.e., value-added) intended to isolate and measure the effects of individual teachers on student academic growth over time. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of school administrators and teachers within one of the largest school districts in the state of Arizona with regards to the design and implementation of a federally-supported, state policy-directed teacher evaluation system based on professional practice and value-added measures. While much research has been conducted on teacher evaluation, few studies have examined teacher evaluation systems in context to better understand the standards of effectiveness used by school administrators and teachers to measure system effectiveness. The perceptions of school administrators and teachers, considering their lived experiences as the subjects of the nation's new and improved teacher evaluation systems in context, must be better understood if state and federal policymakers are to also better recognize and understand the consequences (intended and unintended) associated with the design and implementation of these systems in practice.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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A penny and a half and a pool: lead poisoning and its impact on academic achievement

Description

Lead is a neurotoxin that has been shown to have a long and lasting impact on the brains, bodies, and behaviors of those who are poisoned. It also has

Lead is a neurotoxin that has been shown to have a long and lasting impact on the brains, bodies, and behaviors of those who are poisoned. It also has a greater presence in communities with high levels of poverty and minority populations. Compounded over time, the effects of lead poisoning, even at low levels of exposure, impact a child's readiness and ability to learn. To investigate the relationship between the risk of lead poisoning, school level academic achievement, and community demographics, three sets of data were combined. The Lead Poisoning Risk Index (LPRI), used to quantify the risk in each census tract of being poisoned by lead, standardized state assessment data for third grade reading and eighth grade math, and census 2000 demographic data were combined to provide information for all Arizona schools and census tracts. When achievement was analyzed at the school level using descriptive, bivariate correlation, and multivariate regression analyses, lead's impact practically disappeared, exposing the powerful effect of poverty and race on achievement. At a school in Arizona, the higher the percentage of students who are poor or Hispanic, African American or Native American, these analyses' predictive models suggest there will be a greater percentage of students who fail the third grade AIMS reading and eighth grade AIMS math tests. If better achievement results are to be realized, work must be done to mitigate the effects of poverty on the lives of students. In order to improve schools, there needs to be an accounting for the context within which schools operate and a focus on improving the neighborhoods and the quality of life for the families of students.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Ready or not: student perceptions of the college readiness binary and Arizona Move on When Ready

Description

In 2010, the Arizona Legislature established a performance-based diploma initiative known as Move On When Ready (MOWR). The policy relies on an education model designed to evaluate students' college and

In 2010, the Arizona Legislature established a performance-based diploma initiative known as Move On When Ready (MOWR). The policy relies on an education model designed to evaluate students' college and career readiness by measuring their academic ability to succeed in the first credit-bearing course in community college. Move On When Ready is a structurally oriented, qualification system that attempts to attain a relatively narrow goal: increase the number of students able to successfully perform at a college-level academic standard. By relying on a set of benchmarked assessments to measure success and failure, MOWR propagates a categorical binary. The binary establishes explicit performance criteria on a set of examinations students are required to meet in order to earn a high school qualification that, by design, certifies whether students are ready or not ready for college.

This study sought to reveal how students’ perceptions of the policy and schooling in general affect their understanding of the concept of college readiness and the college readiness binary and to identify factors that help formulate those perceptions. This interpretivist, qualitative study relied on analysis of multiple face-to-face interviews with students to better understand how they think and act within the context of Move On When Ready, paying particular attention to students from historically vulnerable minority subgroups (e.g., the Latina (a)/Hispanic sub-population) enrolled in two schools deploying the MOWR strategy.

Findings suggest that interviewed students understand little about MOWR's design, intent or implications for their future educational trajectories. Moreover, what they believe is generally misinformed, regardless of aspiration, socio-cultural background, or academic standing. School-based sources of messaging (e.g., teachers and administrators) supply the bulk of information to students about MOWR. However, in these two schools, the flow of information is constricted. In addition, the information conveyed is either distorted by message mediators or misinterpreted by the students. The data reveal that formal and informal mediators of policy messages influence students’ engagement with the policy and affect students’ capacity to play an active role in determining the policy’s effect on their educational outcomes.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Individual and combined impact of institutional student support strategies on first-time, full-time, degree-seeking community college students

Description

Although U.S. rates of college enrollment among 18-24 year olds have reached historic highs, rates of degree completion have not kept pace. This is especially evident at community colleges, where

Although U.S. rates of college enrollment among 18-24 year olds have reached historic highs, rates of degree completion have not kept pace. This is especially evident at community colleges, where a disproportionate number of students from groups who, historically, have had low college-completion rates enroll. One way community colleges are attempting to address low completion rates is by implementing institutional interventions intended to increase opportunities for student engagement at their colleges. Utilizing logistic and linear regression analyses, this study focused on community college students, examining the association between participation in institutional support activities and student outcomes, while controlling for specific student characteristics known to impact student success in college. The sample included 746 first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students at a single community college located in the U.S. Southwest. Additional analyses were conducted for the 440 first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students in this sample who placed into at least one developmental education course. Findings indicate that significant associations exist between different types of participation in institutional interventions and various student outcomes: Academic advising was found to be related to increased rates of Fall to Spring and Fall to Fall persistence and, for developmental education students, participation in a student success course was found to be related to an increase in the proportion of course credit hours earned. The results of this study provide evidence that student participation in institutional-level support may relate to increased rates of college persistence and credit hour completion; however, additional inquiry is warranted to inform specific policy and program decision-making at the college and to determine if these findings are generalizable to populations outside of this college setting.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011