Sensemaking about Target-setting in Elementary Schools: How Teachers Implement the Target-setting Policy

Thompson, Angela, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Duke, Daniel, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The purpose of the current study is to investigate how collective sensemaking affects policy implementation as related to the setting of student targets. The study was conducted in two elementary schools, focusing on third through fifth grade teachers – both novice and veteran. Through the use of surveys and periodic interviews, which were coded using four themes (constructing understanding, safeguarding, frustration, and beliefs), the researcher determined that teachers individually and collectively make sense of target-setting policies, and that they experience frustration with the process due to limited availability of data and operating within a paradigm that creates an inherent and unavoidable conflict of interest for teachers. In spite of teachers’ frustration, they believed that the process of setting student growth targets is beneficial for teachers and students. Thus, the researcher concluded that the process should continue with modifications to allow for more accurate growth targets to be set by (a) removing the responsibility of target-setting from teachers and vesting that responsibility with Research and Planning (or, in the alternative, removing the link between teacher compensation and student attainment of teacher-set student growth targets while providing teachers better access to appropriate data) and (b) by encouraging and facilitating teachers’ collective sensemaking concerning the target-setting process.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
target, setting, teacher, evaluation, sensemaking, collective, merit, decision making, high stakes, goal, student, achievement,incentive pay, incentive, group
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