Teachers' Perspectives of Teacher Supervision Policies & Practices in Charter Schools in Pennsylvania
Contributor(s)Caldwell, Corrinne A.
Shapiro, Joan Poliner; Partlow, Michelle Chaplin; Mahar, Robert J.; Jordan, Will J.
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The purpose of this qualitative case study is to discover how teachers view the teacher supervision practices that are in place in two selected charter schools in Southeast urban Pennsylvania by developing an in-depth perspective and understanding of teachers’ perceptions of the efficacy and impact on the current system. Data will be gathered on nine teachers and two teacher supervisors through a series of in-depth interviews, structured observations and document examination at each of the two selected charter schools. There are no experiments being conducted, nor is there any controlling factors in this qualitative study. Instead observations and interviews will be conducted that will allow the voices of the respondents to be heard. The goal is to hear what teachers’ persona perspectives are of the supervision process within their respective schools. This study moves beyond typical supervisory efficacy studies. First because of the setting in charter schools and secondly by examining the teachers’ perspectives of the supervision practices and policies within their schools. In order to gain a better understanding of the context for this study, it is necessary to look at the history of the charter school movement as well as the impact charter schools are having on traditional public schools as a result of the Educational Reform Movement. The current education reform standards found within the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) has brought about a renewed focus on the systems being used to critique teacher efficacy. It is the system that is used to assess teacher quality, through teacher supervision practices and policies that this case study will address. Linda Darling-Hammond (2007) who writes extensively on teacher quality, proposes creating a “high-quality teacher-performance assessment that measures actual teaching skill.” (p. 48). One that can be used for “determining teachers’ competence.” (p. 48). The need for this kind of assessment for teacher efficacy is important since “there does not appear any specific credential or characteristic that is a silver- bullet predicator of quality.” (Goldhaber, 2006, p.1). This qualitative case study will show the reading what systems currently exist within the teacher supervision practices and policies in these two selected charter schools in Southeast urban Pennsylvania. What drives this study will be the revelations of the teachers working in these charter schools who will share their personal point of view of the teacher supervision process based on their own experiences, through document and field observations. The study in itself will not examine any quantitative links with student achievement but is nevertheless based on the idea that good teacher supervision improves teaching that ultimately impacts student achievement levels. “Educational research convincingly shows that teacher quality is the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement.” (Goldhaber, 2006, p.1). Therefore it can be argued that teacher supervision can potentially improve teacher quality that in turn is directly linked to student achievement. While this study will focus on the exploration of teachers’ perspectives of the teacher supervision process that exists within charter schools, the outlying factors such as teacher education, hiring and teacher retention are instrumental in student achievement cannot be ignored, however this study will concentrate only on teacher supervision practices. The significance of this study is that it may provide additional insight on teacher supervision practices, which include a broad range of approaches from instructional, collegial, peer, clinical and self-directed. This study will provide information that will answer the overarching research question, what is the state of teacher supervision in two selected charter schools in Southeastern urban Pennsylvania? Little research has been published specifically on teacher perceptions of teacher supervision practices in urban charter schools. Teacher supervision and teacher evaluation “the process by which teachers are assessed professionally” (Goldrick, 2002, p.2) in urban charter schools have not previously been the subject of rigorous examination. Out of 664 dissertations that addressed the topic of charter schools, teacher supervision practices, teacher perceptions of teacher supervision practices and the impact teacher supervision has on student achievement, only 12 studies (less than 1%) focused on these areas of research. This paucity illustrates the need to increase studies in the area of teacher supervision practices to determine if they are impacting student achievement. The significance of this study comes from learning about a previously unexplored phenomenon in the increasingly influential charter school. Although this study could extend beyond the boundaries of teachers’ perspectives and potentially draw conclusions on the efficacy of teacher supervision practices based on the outcome of student achievement levels, that is not the focus or the reason for this study. The primary focus will remain on teacher's perceptions of the teacher supervisory practices in these two charter schools.