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Assistant principals and teacher supervision: Roles, responsibilities, and regulations

Dissertation
Author: Fatima Begum
Abstract:
Formal teacher evaluations have traditionally been a source of tension, alienation, and conflict (Brandt, 1989). Too often, teacher evaluation means the rating, grading, and classifying of teachers using some "locally standardized instrument as a yardstick" (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2007). In an effort to correct this problem, some states, such as Texas and Florida have passed laws that require a much more structured evaluation, often using a state-provided standardized instrument. These instruments comprise teaching behaviors claimed to be linked to teaching effectiveness research, or other models considered scientific and objective (Goldrick, 2002). Some teachers still feel the process of classroom supervision is disconnected from the purposes of teaching and learning (Valli & Buese, 2007). Many supervisors too, have come to view the process of supervision as a bureaucratic requirement they have to complete (Sanders & Horn, 1995). The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it examines what assistant principals, those often charged with teacher supervision, view as the purpose of supervising teachers. Second, it examines assistant principals' views on the relevance and utility of applying the Texas state mandated teacher appraisal instrument, the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS), in teacher evaluation. Findings from this research will shed light on whether practicing assistant principals are benefiting from the required PDAS instrument. It will determine whether these assistant principals are using the PDAS instrument in a manner consistent with those outlined by its creators, and for the purposes set forth by those who developed it. Employing a combination of traditional surveys and cognitive interviews, this study will illuminate practicing assistant principals' views on the purpose of teacher supervision, and the relevance and utility of the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) in serving those purposes. Findings from this study will be useful for administrators and teachers looking to improve teacher supervision practices.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page I. INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Purpose of the Study 3 Research Questions 3 Significance of the Study 4 Organization of the Study 5 II. REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE 6 School Accountability 6 Teacher Quality and Effectiveness 8 Purpose of Teacher Supervision 10 History of Teacher Supervision 12 A Supervision and Evaluation Paradox 15 Current Problems with Teacher Evaluation 20 Classroom Observation in Teacher Supervision 21 Types of Supervision 23 Supervision and Professional Development 25 School Leadership 28 Instructional Leadership 29 Transformational and Transactional Leadership 31 The Role of the Supervisor 33 The School Principal 35 The Effective Principal 37 History of the Assistant Principal 37 Role of the Assistant Principal 39 Professional Development Appraisal System 43 Learner-Centered Proficiencies 44 Laws Creating the PDAS 48 Rules Governing the PDAS 50 III. METHODOLOGY 54 Variables 55 Participants 55 Instrument 59 Data Collection Procedures 59 Emerging Themes 61 Data Analysis Procedure 64 Limitations of the Study 64

IV. RESULTS 65 Research Question One 65 Research Question Two 68 Research Question Three 71 Research Question Four 74 V. CONCLUSIONS AND SUMMARY 76 Research Question One 76 Research Question Two 79 Research Question Three 79 Research Question Four 83 Summary 84 Recommendations for Practice 89 Recommendations for Future Research 89 REFERENCES 91 x

LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. Attributes of Schools and Assistant Principals 58 2. Purpose of Teacher Supervision 65 3. Improved Teacher and Student Learning (Age) 66 4. Improved Teacher and Student Learning (Yrs. in Education) 66 5. Improved Teacher and Student Learning (Yrs. as Assistant Principal) ... 67 6. Improved Teacher and Student Learning (School Ranking) 67 7. Do Our Current Assessment Practices Work? 68 8. Cross-tabulation of Purpose of Supervision 69 9. Confidence in Assessment Practices (Yrs. as Assistant Principal) 69 10. Confidence in Assessment Practices (Yrs. in Education) 70 11. Confidence in Assessment Practices (School Ranking) 70 12. Confidence in Assessment Practices (School Size) 71 13. Assistant Principal as the Best Person for Teacher Supervision? 72 14. AP the Best Person for Teacher Supervision (Yrs. in Education) 72 15. AP the Best Person for Teacher Supervision (School Ranking) 73 16. AP the Best Person for Teacher Supervision (School Size) 73 17. Factors Assistant Principals Include in Teacher Reports 74 18. Observed or Other Factors (Age) 74 19. Observed or Other Factors (Yrs. As Assistant Principal) 75 xi

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The education system in America has experienced two decades of focused reform (Kauchak & Eggen, 2003). Since the early 1980s, two National Commissions, a Presidential Governor's Summit, and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) have contributed to sweeping changes in education. The greatest change has been increased levels of accountability for teachers and schools, and the expectation that every child in America should receive a quality education. In this age of accountability, teachers are expected to have a desired effect on student learning, and are facing increased scrutiny (Peterson, 2000). Research shows that quality teachers who are well trained, have good content knowledge, and demonstrate strong pedagogical skills are more likely to improve or increase student learning. Many believe these skills and knowledge can be documented and quantified using teacher evaluation methods (Peterson, 2000; Stronge, 1997). Others believe that quantifying a teacher's quality, effectiveness, and their impact on student learning is difficult because teaching is a very complicated and fluid process (Shinkfield & Stufflebeam, 1995; Stodolsky, 1984). The terms supervision and evaluation are used interchangeably in the research. Gentry (2002) reports that principals could not clearly communicate a definition of supervision, but instead used the term interchangeably with evaluation. The primary purpose of supervision is to encourage individual teacher growth beyond the teacher's existing level of professional ability (Goldsberry, 1998). Current approaches to teacher supervision have been criticized for reliability and

2 validity of data and the conflicting goals of summative and formative feedback (Duke, 1995; McDougall, 2001). Teachers have condemned school systems that have attempted to improve the reliability and validity of their teacher supervision programs by using indicators of student learning as a measure of teacher effectiveness (Archer, 1998; Mobley, 2002). Teachers report that most supervision methods do little to affect future teaching methods or goals for the next year, and they promote caution by hindering a teacher's desire for risk-taking and self-reflection (Johnson, 1990; McDougall, 2001; Reagan, Case, K., Case, C. & Freiberg, 1993). In numerous studies, teachers have expressed their desire for improved teacher evaluation methods that provide for accountability and motivation (Clemetsen, 2000; Corkery, 1999; Johnson, 1990; McDougall, 2001; Stronge & Tucker, 1999). Those charged with teacher supervision must reevaluate what it means, and if it is achieving its intended purpose. If student achievement relates to teacher ability, and if teachers are to grow professionally, administrators must understand what it is they can do to foster this growth through effective supervision practices. Statement of the Problem Much concern has been raised about the ineffective practices employed by school administrators while supervising teachers (Valli & Buese, 2007). Despite a plethora of research and publications in the field, effective teacher supervision is rarely seen (Downey, Steffy, English, Frase, & Poston, 2004). Part of the problem is that state and district mandates compel supervisors to operate within certain protocols, protocols which foster poor supervision practices. These protocols also bind what can and can not be seen. The role of teacher supervision, often undertaken by the school principal or the assistant

3 principal, has not only become time consuming, but also in many instances destructive to the teacher- administrator relationship (Robinson, 2007). A trusting, authentic, collaborative atmosphere that results in the professional growth of the teacher is often suppressed under rigid, non-collegial, mandated teacher supervision. The question remains whether mandated supervision instruments help or hinder those who are employing these instruments in appraising teachers. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to explore how practicing assistant principals' views and practices of teacher supervision align with those of the Texas state developed and state mandated system of teacher performance appraisal (PDAS). It will also explore how effective or ineffective assistant principals view the PDAS instrument at providing sound teacher appraisal. Research Questions The research questions proposed for this study are: 1. To what extent do assistant principals agree with the PDAS instrument on the purposes of teacher supervision? 2. To what extent do assistant principals feel that the PDAS instrument is an effective assessment tool? 3. To what extent do assistant principals feel that they are one among qualified others to conduct teacher supervision? 4. To what extent do assistant principals include information beyond what they observe when writing reports supervising teachers?

4 Significance of the Study This study has the potential to make significant contributions to the knowledge base in three areas. First, this study will contribute to the field of knowledge on assistant principals. Current research on assistant principals is scant. This study will add to the literature on assistant principals. In particular, this study will illuminate assistant principals' practices as supervisors of teachers, especially in regard to the PDAS instrument. An examination of practices of teacher supervision will be helpful in identifying whether the PDAS system is working as a means of teacher supervision, and if not, in what areas it is falling short. Such information will not only pinpoint weaknesses, if any, in the current PDAS system, but it will also provide valuable recommendations for designers of the next generation of teacher evaluations. Feedback from practicing assistant principals on challenges faced and strategies employed while supervising teachers will be valuable information not only for designers of the Texas state developed PDAS, but also for policy makers, administrators and teachers looking to improve teacher supervision in other states as well. Second, because the role of the assistant principal has been an ambiguous one, this study will provide data on what role exactly assistant principals see themselves undertaking with regards to teacher supervision. This data will shed light on the needs, wants, and frustrations of assistant principals as they supervise teachers. Data gathered will be insightful in identifying what skills and training assistant principals feel they need in order to be effective teacher supervisors. The findings of this study may provide implications for improving assistant principal training and preparation programs.

5 Finally, the results of this research may reinforce the need for standards in instructional supervision for assistant principals and other instructional supervisors as espoused by Gordon (2005), Holtzapple (2003), Heneman and Milanowski (2003), and Holland and Adams (2002). Maurice and Cook (2005) note that, "when thousands of instructional leaders in schools and agencies implement different models of improvement for millions of teachers, a net of power relations is strung, without a center, but no less pervasive" (p. 10). Such relations enact what Foucault (1988) called, "technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the subject" (p. 18). It is clear that the practice of instructional supervision remains in conflict, and feedback on the needs of practicing teacher supervisors can help to shape standards for this field. Organization of the Study This study is organized as follows: Chapter One presents an introduction, the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, the research questions, and the significance of the study. Chapter Two reviews the relevant literature, the historical and theoretical frameworks, and related research. Chapter Three describes the methodology, the research design, the data collection, and analysis procedure, and the limitations of the study. Chapter Four presents the research findings. Chapter Five discusses the researcher's conclusions and interpretations. Implications and recommendations for further research are also presented.

CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE School Accountability The past two decades has witnessed a massive reform in education. Two National Commissions, a Presidential Governor's Summit, and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) have changed the face of education in America. Since the early 1980s increased use of technology, standards based curriculum, and high stakes testing have become common features in the American classroom (Kauchak & Eggen, 2003). Increased levels of accountability for teachers and schools, and the expectation that every child in America receives a quality education are common values in districts across the nation. With these changes have come a new sense of accountability and the expectation that teachers and schools are providing each child an adequate education. The tone of educational reform in America was set with the formation of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. Founded in 1981 by T. H. Bell, the United States Secretary of Education, the duties of this commission included examining America's schools and making recommendations for improvements which would lead to higher student achievement. The findings of the Commission were made public in 1983 and included the infamous words, "Our nation is at risk" (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983, p. 7). Among the numerous recommendations made by the Commission was one focused specifically on improving teachers and their teaching. The Commission called for an effective teacher evaluation system.

7 The administration of President George Herbert Walker Bush sponsored a governors' education summit in 1989 that produced a number of recommendations, including higher standards for student achievement and higher quality teachers (Goals 1996,1998). This summit laid the groundwork for the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, which became law in 1994 (Goals 1996,1998). The Act provided states with federal money to develop plans for standards-based reform, focusing on rigorous expectations that would improve teaching, student learning, and student achievement. Governors began work with their state legislators to draft legislation ordering State Departments of Education to create higher academic standards and implement strategies to increase accountability for student achievement (Sanders & Horn, 1998). The term accountability became a major theme of this phase of the reform movement, as legislators and educators worked to develop ways to hold school divisions accountable for student learning. It was during this era that standardized testing gained popularity. Standardized testing was thought of as a tangible way to hold schools accountable for student learning. By 1999, 48 states had end of year student tests in place (Quality Counts, 1999). Among these 48 states, 19 states published the results of individual schools, 16 states retained power to close or take over failing schools, 14 provided monetary rewards to high performing schools, and 19 required students to pass a test to graduate from high school (Quality Counts, 1999). Test scores began defining the quality of schools, the higher the test scores, the better the school. Everyone from federal government to state legislators, school boards, and administrators had an eye on the scores, scores which had an impact on decisions

8 such as which schools were successful, where students were learning, where teacher quality was, and where to allocate resources (Amrein & Berliner, 2002; Rea, 2004). The 1996 study, What Matters Most: Teaching or America's Future, placed the burden of accountability on the shoulders of America's teachers (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future [NCTAF], 1996). The report highlighted the importance of competent teachers and the way in which a teacher's skills and knowledge positively affects student learning. The report challenged schools to recruit and hire good teachers for every classroom by 2006. The Commission recommended that professional development be organized around teaching standards, and that mentor programs be implemented in order for teacher evaluation. Most recently, in January of 2002, President G. W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), as a reauthorized version of the 1965 ESEA (United States Department of Education, 2002). With a major emphasis on teacher quality and student achievement, the goal of this act was to improve the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability. The reforms of the last two decades have resulted in higher standards and greater accountability for schools across the nation. As school work towards higher accountability ratings and increased student achievement, many researchers are focusing attention on teacher quality and its link to student learning. Teacher Quality and Effectiveness Many researchers have equated high quality teachers with increased student learning. What skills constitute a high quality teacher on the other hand is debated. Some believe that by observing effective teachers, the skills and techniques these teachers

employ can be quantified in evaluating other teachers (Peterson, 2000; Stronge, 1997). Others disagree; citing that quantifying a teacher's quality, effectiveness, and their impact on student learning is misleading and dangerous because teaching is a very complicated and fluid process. Teaching is influenced by many uncontrolled variables, and as such, it is difficult to know precisely what teaching behaviors are most effective for any one situation (Shinkfield & Stufflebeam, 1995; Stodolsky, 1984). Cotton (1995) notes that there are as many as 150 variables that contribute to student learning. Teachers have varying degrees of control over these variables (Marzano, 2000). Inside the classroom teachers exercise a degree of control over planning and organization, instruction, classroom management, curriculum design, and assessment (Brophy, 1996; Cotton, 1995; Creemers, 1994; Marzano, 2000). Outside the classroom, teachers have control over their education background and area of certification (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Wenglinsky, 2002). In no way though do teachers control all factors that lead to student learning. In fact, some scholars suggest that student background, motivation, and learned intelligence are all factors that may affect student learning as much, if not more, than the factors teachers can control (Marzano, 2000; Wenglinsky, 2002; Wright, Horn, & Saunders, 1997). Kaplan and Owings (2003) in their review of the literature however, cite numerous articles and reports that state despite the role family and community factors play in a child's education, that teacher quality is the single most important factor influencing student achievement (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Kaplan & Owings, 2001; Walsh, 2001; Whitehurst, 2002). They urge that staffing all classrooms with highly qualified teachers,

10 retaining quality teachers, and improving ineffective teachers must become a national priority if we want our children to succeed. The link between teacher quality and student learning has turned attention to improving teacher quality as one solution for improving education in America. Among the factors that influence teacher quality are pedagogical skill, breadth of education, and professional development opportunities (Wenglinsky, 2000). If a goal of the reform movement is to improve the educational process as measured by the improved academic growth of students, and if student academic growth is contingent on good teaching, then measures of how teachers and schools facilitate such growth should be included in teacher supervision programs (Sanders & Horn, 1998). Iwanicki suggests that teacher supervision would be more meaningful and productive if it focused on teaching practices that improve student learning (Mocet, 1998). Some states such as Texas have heeded this advice and have shifted the focus of their teacher supervision program to pedagogical skills, breadth of education, professional development, and measures of student achievement as a means to improve teacher quality. Purpose of Teacher Supervision The primary purpose of supervision is to encourage individual teacher growth beyond the teacher's existing level of professional ability (Goldsberry, 1998). The meaning of the term supervision in educational settings has evolved over time. During the past hundred years, a range of approaches have existed for supervising and evaluating teachers. In all cases, the overall goal has been to improve instruction. Nearly a century ago, Ellwood P. "Dad" Cubberley, then-dean of Stanford University's College of

Education, defined the purpose of teacher supervision as the process to, "increase the efficiency of the classroom teacher" (Nutt, 1920, p. vii-viii). Ribas (2000) characterizes the purpose of teacher supervision as "educational improvement", elaborating that "evaluation systems are typically designed to improve student achievement and teachers' professional performance and fulfillment" (p. 86). Kauchak and Eggen (1985), classifies supervision as a critical strand of leadership, stating that there are four dimensions to supervision: (1) a leader must know his beliefs about supervision; (2) a leader must help followers know themselves; (3) a leader must help followers know the task; and (4) a leader must help followers know the situation. Within teacher supervision, Sergiovanni (1995) believes that evaluation plays a major role, defining evaluation as a process which should describe and highlight the teaching and learning that happens each day in the classroom, not a process which focuses on how teachers measure up to the standards. The purpose of supervising and evaluating teachers has not always been the same in America. Tracy (1995) describes the specific phases that have characterized teacher supervision and evaluation since the late 1800s, including: community accountability, professionalization, scientific, human relations, and human development. Since the early 1900s, the primary method of teacher supervision has been data collection through checklists and rating scale instruments used during observation of classroom instruction. Teachers have been rated on a variety of aspects ranging from personal grooming and personality characteristics, to instructional strategies and methods, class management, and record keeping. The purpose of this type of evaluation was to prove rather than improve. Checklists and ratings "proved" teachers were meeting (or not meeting) a

12 particular standard with little or no regard to teacher growth or improvement. Past criticisms of teacher supervision and evaluation methods include relevance to instruction, fairness, qualifications of the evaluator, and a focus on inspection and control instead of growth and improvement (Tracy, 1995). Teacher evaluation and supervision techniques began to evolve in the early 1980s under the increased push by the reform movement towards heightened teacher accountability. The question was no longer solely whether a teacher was meeting a standard or not, rather it was how to improve the teachers and how to make sure they were being effective in the classroom (Shinkfield & Stufflebeam, 1995). From 1983 to 1992, thirty-eight states enacted new teacher supervision and evaluation policies that focused on improvement, continuing employment, or performance pay. These changes were considered appropriate ways to improve teacher accountability and quality based on research at the time (Furtwengler, 1995). Furtwengler (1995) notes that although states worked toward improving their programs, a great deal of variation existed in how states approached teacher supervision and evaluation. History of Teacher Supervision Supervision has a long history in American schools. According to Daniel and Lauren Tanner in Supervision in Education (1987), the functions of supervision have evolved with the development of the public school system. From 1642 to the late nineteenth century school supervision was differentiated from instructional supervision. Control over supervision during the 1600s was entrusted to local or religious officers and special committees of laymen (Burnham, 1976). Those persons who were functioning as "supervisors" visited the school for the purpose of controlling standards. Job duties

13 included inspection of the physical plant and making judgments about the teacher rather than improving teaching or student learning (Burnham, 1976). These "supervisors" were more focused on the management of the school and meeting the requirements of the prescribed curriculum rather than the improvement of instruction. During this period it was the responsibility of community leaders to encourage parents to be wardens of their children's learning. In the case a school or classroom did not meet the standards, teaching personnel were replaced (Burnham, 1976). Lucio and McNeil (1962) refer to this period as "Period of Administrative Inspection". This early period of school supervision was characterized according to Dickey (1948) by three fundamental approaches: (a) authority and autocratic rule; (b) emphasis upon the inspection and weeding out of weak teachers; and (c) conformity to standards prescribed by the committee of laymen. The second period of supervision, spanning from 1876 to approximately 1936, has been referred to as the "Period of Efficiency Orientation" (Lucio & McNeil, 1962). The supervisory role moved from lay people to professional personnel. The position of chief state school officer was introduced and assumed a status of importance and influence (Burnham, 1976). A head teacher or principal was identified, whose role was to inspect classrooms and "find something to improve". In addition, at the same time, many new subjects were introduced; subject teachers were untrained and unprepared to teach. In order to remedy this problem, special supervisors were enlisted to model instruction in these new subjects (Burnham, 1976). During this period more emphasis was given to instructional supervision and the improvement of instruction than was given during the "Period of Administrative

14 Inspection" (Burnham, 1976). Some of the common practices during this time frame included classroom visitations and classroom observations. Principals and special supervisors took responsibility over the supervision of classroom instruction. Efficiency'Vas the underlying theme during this period. The philosophy which directed teacher supervision was one of inspection, but at the same time it promoted the idea of supervision as the transmission of superior knowledge. This was the period in which the supervisor was regarded as one with "SUPERvision" and the concept of leadership for improvement emerged (Burnham, 1976). By 1937, as school systems grew, new tasks emerged for school staff. The position of special supervisor (also known as curriculum coordinator in smaller schools) was created in response to new areas such as fine arts, physical education, and foreign languages being added to the curriculum. During the "Period of Cooperative Group Effort," 1937-1959 responsibility for supervision of instruction was handled not only by principals, but also by administrators such as special supervisors, assistant superintendents of instruction, and curriculum coordinators (Lucio & McNeil, 1962). The focus during this period was on cooperative enterprises such as curriculum development and in-service education courses designed for "the improvement of the teaching processes with the aims of promoting pupil learning" (p. 10-11). Supervision as a means for professional development of the teacher was introduced beginning in the mid 1950s. Through observation, conferencing, and feedback cycles performed by the supervisor, supervisors aimed at helping teachers find and apply appropriate instructional strategies and curriculum materials. Teachers began taking an

Full document contains 121 pages
Abstract: Formal teacher evaluations have traditionally been a source of tension, alienation, and conflict (Brandt, 1989). Too often, teacher evaluation means the rating, grading, and classifying of teachers using some "locally standardized instrument as a yardstick" (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2007). In an effort to correct this problem, some states, such as Texas and Florida have passed laws that require a much more structured evaluation, often using a state-provided standardized instrument. These instruments comprise teaching behaviors claimed to be linked to teaching effectiveness research, or other models considered scientific and objective (Goldrick, 2002). Some teachers still feel the process of classroom supervision is disconnected from the purposes of teaching and learning (Valli & Buese, 2007). Many supervisors too, have come to view the process of supervision as a bureaucratic requirement they have to complete (Sanders & Horn, 1995). The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it examines what assistant principals, those often charged with teacher supervision, view as the purpose of supervising teachers. Second, it examines assistant principals' views on the relevance and utility of applying the Texas state mandated teacher appraisal instrument, the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS), in teacher evaluation. Findings from this research will shed light on whether practicing assistant principals are benefiting from the required PDAS instrument. It will determine whether these assistant principals are using the PDAS instrument in a manner consistent with those outlined by its creators, and for the purposes set forth by those who developed it. Employing a combination of traditional surveys and cognitive interviews, this study will illuminate practicing assistant principals' views on the purpose of teacher supervision, and the relevance and utility of the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) in serving those purposes. Findings from this study will be useful for administrators and teachers looking to improve teacher supervision practices.