A case study of the use of portfolios to appraise teacher performance

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Pommen, Joan M
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1994
The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of professional portfolios in appraising teacher performance. The scope goes from the broad perspective of determining the sources of discontentment in present evaluation practices; to the narrow focus on the experiences of teachers using portfolios in evaluation, and back to the broad view of portfolios within the context of the roles of teacher evaluation in the education system. The format looks like Figure 1. Part I This project begins by providing the reader with a theoretical base to set the context for the study. A need is established for a new procedure in assessing teacher performance by retracing how I came to be interested in the topic. Then I investigate the discontentment of teachers with the process by identifying the dual nature of the role of teacher evaluation - accountability and professional development. The relationship between these two components is described by using the word 'conflict' as that was how they appear to exist in the minds of many teachers. The conflict is presented in the same manner as it unfolded to me. I propose that a compromise can be reached between accountability and professional development by stating the first can actually lead to the second. Last, I suggest professional portfolios can bridge both roles of teacher evaluation. Part II The case study is initiated with the intent to provide evidence that portfolios provide teachers with a chance to demonstrate their competence, thus satisfying the need for accountability while promoting their growth as professionals. For my research, I chose a small town in rural Alberta where teachers had been experimenting with the use of portfolios as part of the evaluation process since 1992. After outlining the intent of the project from the principal's perspective I relate the perceptions of the direct participants and the superintendent. I discover that despite a different format, the same concerns about teacher evaluation surfaced. summarize these concerns through four recurring themes that emerged from the study. They are the themes of the cutting edge, second-guessing, tunnel vision and isolation. The problems addressed in the themes are dealt with in the interpretation of the data. I identify six needs that must be considered before portfolio assessment can successfully be implemented as a form of teacher evaluation. I then relate my findings in the research literature on teacher evaluation and professional development. Part III In the final chapter of the project, I return again to the discussion of professional development and accountability. I investigate why portfolios did not bridge the two elements despite the hopes of the principal. To explain the tension, I probe into the two views of teaching within the education community. I conclude with a plan to place the appraisal of teaching performance within the context of goal setting and school improvement plans, thus creating the concept of a professional development school or school system where accountability and professional development can not only coexist but can be coterminous. I present a diagram that depicts how portfolios can be facilitated in such a structure.
viii, 120 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Portfolios in education -- Alberta -- Case studies , Teachers -- Alberta -- Rating of -- Case studies , Educational evaluation -- Alberta -- Case studies