Evaluation, Supervision, and Staff Development under Mandated Reform: The Perceptions and Practices of Rural Middle School Principals

Article excerpt

The perspectives of three rural middle school principals as they implement Georgia's A Plus Education Reform Act of 2000 were investigated in this study. A case study approach was used, employing both within case and cross case analyses. Three interviews were conducted with each of the three participants, resulting in a total of nine interviews. Five perspectives emerged from the data: (1) Evaluation of teacher effectiveness can be indicated only by the results of standardized tests, (2) Supervision consists of classroom visits and observations, (3) Ruralness affects how staff development is delivered, (4) Lack of funding limits the effectiveness of the staff development component of teacher evaluation, and (5) Implementation of A Plus adversely affects the traditional middle school schedule.

Former Georgia Governor Roy Barries's A Plus Education Reform Act of 2000, House Bill 1187, was met with concerns from teachers and administrators in Georgia public schools (Jacobson, 2001). After more than a decade under the Quality Basic Education Act, educators faced a new roadmap for school improvement. Much of the responsibility for implementation of the A Plus Education Reform Act of 2000 (hereafter referred to as A Plus) rested with administrative personnel, most notably principals, responsible for the supervision, evaluation, and staff development of all certified staff. Although A Plus was amended in 2003, the teacher evaluation mandates remain. The purpose of this study was to examine the perspectives and practices of three rural middle school principals who, by state statute, were mandated to implement the teacher evaluation provisions of the bill.

A Plus's reforms include accountability-specifically, teacher accountability. A Plus provided that a teacher receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation would not be entitled to a salary increase based on credit for years of experience. A Plus required that:

The placement of teachers on the salary schedule shall be based on certificate level and years of creditable experience, except that a teacher shall not receive credit for any year of experience in which the teacher received an unsatisfactory performance evaluation. (O. C. G. A. §200 -20 -212 (a))

Additionally, teachers receiving two unsatisfactory annual performance evaluations in the previous five-year period would not be re-certified until the perceived deficiency was remediated. To wit:

An individual who has received two unsatisfactory annual performance evaluations in the previous five-year period pursuant to Code section 20-2-210 shall not be entitled to a renewable certificate prior to demonstrating that such performance deficiency has been satisfactorily addressed, but such individual may apply to the commission for a nonrenewable certificate. (O. C. G. A. §200 -20 -200 (c)

In the past, the Georgia Teacher Evaluation Program (GTEP) was used throughout the state. Administrators were required to receive state-approved training on the evaluation instrument. While school systems are no longer required to use GTEP, some systems opt to use GTEP with the addition of the following minimal considerations of the statute:

1. The role of the teacher in meeting the school's student achievement goals, including the academic gains of students assigned to the teacher;

2. Observations of the teacher by the principal and assistant principals during the delivery of instruction and at other times as appropriate;

3. Participation in professional development opportunities and the application of concepts learned to classroom and school activities;

4. Communication and interpersonal skills as they relate to interaction with students, parents, other teachers, administrators, and other school personnel;

5. Timeliness and attendance for assigned responsibilities;

6. Adherence to school and local school system procedures and rules; and,

7. Personal conduct while in performance of school duties. …