The purpose of this paper is to examine how US school leaders and teachers make sense of multiple accountability policies, including the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation, and how this process relates to school priorities and classroom practice.
This study uses a comparative case study approach to understand how principals and teachers in three high-poverty urban schools respond to policy.
Although principals and teachers viewed academic standards and the teacher evaluation framework as complementary, two of the three schools focused on meeting the expectations of the teacher evaluation framework at the expense of attention to academic standards. Without attention to the connections among policies and school priorities, the introduction of new policies may detract from rather than reinforce attention to academic standards.
Principals who are stronger instructional leaders may be better able to “craft coherence” among multiple standards-based policies and school priorities for instruction and student learning. Although their experiences are not generalizable, findings suggest that attending to standards for student and teacher performance without connecting to the implications for content and students’ learning may lead to superficial integration of accountability policies with school priorities.
Findings provide further evidence that principals play an essential role in responding to policy and suggest that districts and external support providers can assist their efforts by creating opportunities for professional learning about the connections among multiple policies and their implications for practice.
This paper extends Honig and Hatch’s conceptualization of “crafting coherence” to the work of teachers and the implications for classroom practice.
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