Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

James R. Austin

Second Advisor

Margaret H. Berg

Third Advisor

James M. Dunn

Fourth Advisor

David A. Rickels

Fifth Advisor

Jennie Whitcomb

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine K-12 music educators’ perspectives of current teacher evaluation practices designed to comply with Race to the Top initiatives implemented in four states. A total of 288 music teachers from Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee completed a 23-item online questionnaire in the spring of 2014. Participants responded to closed-ended items regarding their most recent professional evaluation, including (a) measures of performance considered in the evaluation process, (b) stakeholders involved in evaluative decisions, and (c) outcomes associated with evaluation results. Additional research questions focused upon K–12 music educators’ perceptions of the fairness, clarity, and utility of evaluation processes and how teacher evaluation impacted daily classroom practice.

Closed-ended items were subject to descriptive analyses, and paired samples t-tests revealed relationships between music educators’ lived and idealized notions of teacher evaluation requirements. Group differences in teacher perceptions as related to gender, area (e.g., general, instrumental, choral), and level (e.g., K–5, 6–8, 9–12) were examined using multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA). Responses to two open-ended items, focusing upon evaluation’s impact upon music teaching and learning, as well as evaluation’s influence on music education as a profession, were analyzed, coded, and organized into patterns.

Descriptive findings suggested that participants favored evaluation systems emphasizing professional development outcomes (e.g., to guide improvement of teachers’ skills) over those emphasizing professional status outcomes (e.g., to discharge incompetent teachers). Overall, participants had slightly negative perceptions of teacher evaluations, sensing little direct benefit to teaching and learning. Music educators also lacked clarity regarding evaluation requirements and outcomes. Although participants supported the consideration of multiple measures of teacher performance in the evaluative process, they most valued classroom observations. Group difference analyses suggested that female elementary general music teachers responded most favorably to teacher evaluation.

Open-ended item analyses revealed participants’ distinct concerns about time demands, lack of evaluator expertise in music, and overall applicability of the evaluation process to music teaching and learning. Many participants also believed the evaluation process diminished the professional status of music education. Implications for teacher evaluation policy and recommendations for research are discussed.

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