Circulating Power through Teacher Evaluation System: A Foucauldian Perspective
The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the role of power within the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) for four public school teachers currently teaching at a local public charter or traditional public school. I wanted to inquire into the way teachers made meaning of this newly adapted evaluation system. My goal was that their perspectives and experiences highlighted, if any, the role power played within the evaluation system and unveil the notion of continued dependence on a system outlined by historical discourse.
I was specific in using a phenomenological approach for this study; specifically, since a phenomenological study aims at understanding a person's subjective experiences and interpretations of the world (Social Research Methods, 2006). In this study, aimed at understanding the meaning making process of teachers, the phenomena are the lived experiences of teachers within the evaluation system. The four teachers informing this study are governed by the guidelines of the T-TESS. The study provides an interpretation on how each teachers made meaning of the T-TESS. Each teacher offered a unique approach to the evaluation experiences.
This study has problematized the practice of teacher evaluation systems and exposed its power relations, as reported by the teachers. Furthermore, the study has shown the mixed perceptions of teacher effectiveness, as it relates to the evaluation system and personal teacher insight. Though, other studies have generated similar insight, I have articulated the findings within a Foucauldian lens to better understand and interpret the power relations associated with the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System. The intent of this study was not to suggest for an improved teacher evaluation system or cast blame on the current state of evaluation systems. Rather my intent was to uncover how power circulates within the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System. The study has provided this information by way of interpreting the way teachers make meaning of the evaluation system.
The study offered no solution or formula for improvement. Rather what it offers is an exposure to a discourse set on normalizing a teacher workforce that is highly invested in human behavior and social interactions. It provides a unique lens on which to view the effects teacher evaluation systems have on teachers. It highlights the multiple ways power operates, in many cases undetected, throughout the system.