Theses Doctoral

Teachers as Policy Actors: Amplifying Teachers’ Knowledge About Teacher Evaluation Policy

Hengst, Filomena E.

Despite teachers being centrally implicated in teacher evaluation policy reform, we know little about the effects of its policies and procedures on teachers’ work in their school district, and we see limited discussion about the possibility of teachers as policy actors to reflect upon and possibly improve or overcome teacher evaluation. Using data from a teacher inquiry group, informal observations, follow-up interviews, and a document analysis of official documents, the researcher examined the underlying discourses in the official documents of teacher evaluation policy and responses that surfaced when teachers study teacher evaluation policies and practices in their New Jersey school district.

The researcher found that federal mandates operated under the premise that improving teacher quality closes the achievement gap, but, in reality, they acted as a punitive measure to target teachers. Additionally, the researcher found the official documents inaccessible to teachers, unresponsive to public comment, and containing standards that are not locally defined. Teachers in the study perceived the enacted teacher evaluation system in this school district to be without much positive impact on professional development. Teachers in the study critiqued the federal teacher evaluation policy mandates for their treatment of teachers and students. They also critiqued the teacher evaluation policies and practices in their school district, recalling episodes of formal observation that inspired negative feelings, administrator bias, and unhelpful feedback. In the end, teachers in the study support each other, remain optimistic and dream up alternatives to make it all work better. This dissertation concludes with implications for teacher advocacy efforts, professional development, and future research.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Roosevelt, Dirck
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 24, 2023