Transformative teacher evaluation: Self evaluation for high performing teachers
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Public schools are in crisis, as educators and legislators seek to provide high quality education to diverse students in a measurement-driven environment. The public educator’s moral imperative is to assure that all children are literate when they leave school so they can thrive in our democracy (Dewey, 1944; Freire, 1998a; Giroux & Giroux, 2004). Yet, the achievement gap persists, as poor African-American and Latino students under-perform as compared to white middle-class students (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). Additionally, public school teachers are predominately middle-class and White, while they teach increasingly diverse children of poverty.
In legislation, student assessment, teacher licensure, and research-based curricula have taken center stage. Teacher evaluation is noticeably absent (Danielson, 2002; Iwanicki, 1990; No Child Left Behind Act, 2002). Teacher evaluation is static and mired in politics; it has not historically helped improve school (Peterson, 2000). Investigating teacher evaluation’s potential as an overlooked tool to improve teaching for all teachers and students in public school is urgent in this climate. As Stronge and Tucker (2003) asserted, “Without capable, highly qualified teachers in America’s classrooms, no educational reform process can possibly succeed” (p. 3).
This problem-based learning dissertation addresses a real problem in practice: how to make teacher evaluation meaningful for high-performing teachers. This study explores Wood’s (1998) call for a move from traditional to transformative evaluation. Ten high performing teachers field-tested a self-evaluation handbook. They explored study options designed to help them critically reflect on their own teaching, connect with students, reflect, and set new goals. This work shows promise to help teachers and students engage in a more democratic, caring and loving public place we call school.
This work is timely. After all, “When all is said and done, what matters most for students’ learning are the commitments and capacities of their teachers” (Darling-Hammond, 1997, p. 293).
0449: Educational leadership
0514: School administration