“Who are these for? Is this for the teacher?”: Understandings of expertise and evaluation in the era of ESSA
Keywords:teacher expertise, teacher evaluation, accountability, supervision, Every Child Succeeds Act
Understandings of teacher expertise in the US have transformed over the past 40 years, arguably being “narrowed” and “numericized” due to high-stakes accountability and neoliberal education reform movements. While this trend has been thoroughly studied under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and Race to the Top regimes, less consideration has been given since the Every Study Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced NCLB in 2015, which notably pivoted away from some of the most stringent accountability practices of the previous era. This paper begins a new line of inquiry into teacher expertise in our current federal policy context, especially considering how understandings of expertise are constructed in school districts that never adopted the most high-stakes evaluation measures. By relying on Jessica Holloway’s (2021) technologies of risk management, this paper explores how teachers in one school understand expertise, focusing specifically on how evaluation and assessment technologies engage with and influence these understandings. Ultimately, it was found that teachers in fact held a plurality of understandings, yet complex and sometimes conflicting influences of assessment and evaluation practices also emerged. This paper argues that although risk management technologies have become commonplace, scholars and practitioners alike should continue to scrutinize their use under ESSA, particularly considering how they are being used, who they primarily benefit, and what consequences come from our reliance upon them.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Madeline Good
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