The larger purpose of this study was to highlight educational evaluation mandates, practices, and their implementation and impact in a rural context. This was done by examining rural schools that were involved in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) because PLCs are often required to do evaluation activities for accountability purposes and also have evaluation processes central to their functioning. This research aimed to map out evaluation activities and influences through the analysis of PLC initiatives in three Greater MN school districts and schools. A vertical case study design created a rich description of evaluation practices. The researcher spoke with participants at each level of PLC functioning (state, region, local administration, and classroom), which allowed on the unearthing of similarities and differences in understandings of evaluation. This research illustrated that “evaluation” meant different things to different people. It seems that these differences depended on what level they worked at, their involvement with state initiatives, and how directly they worked with students. Generally speaking, state mandates had a large influence on people’s understandings of evaluation, and evaluation done for accountability purposes was not seen as useful or valued as much as evaluation done for self-identified goals and program improvement. Participants tended to focus more on organizational factors that affected evaluation practice than on individual factors. Organizational factors that impacted evaluation practice included, but were not limited to: (a) the size of the district/school, (b) local leadership, (c) time, and (d) the movement towards standards-based grading.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Jean King. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 188 pages.
Evaluation Practice in Rural Areas: A Vertical Case Study of Evaluation in Three Minnesota Districts.
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