In the United States policymakers, states, and researchers are increasingly reliant on teacher evaluations as a means for identifying high-quality teachers. School principals are the primary school-based actors responsible for implementing teacher evaluation policies at the school level and must make sense of these policies at an ever-increasing pace. These sensemaking processes have great implications for how teacher evaluation policies play out in practice. In this paper I ask (a) what factors influence principals’ sensemaking of changing teacher evaluation policies and (b) how these factors influence both decision-making by principals, as well as the ways the policies are implemented. I use an exploratory case study approach, drawing on interviews and district specific documents from six public school principals in the U.S. state of Michigan. Findings suggest that, because teacher evaluation policies were tied to the employment of their teachers, principals made sense of and implemented these policies in very specific ways. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.


Teacher Evaluation, Policy Implementation, Principal, Sensemaking

Author Bio(s)

David is a 4th year educational policy doctoral student at Michigan State University. His current research interests include how teachers and school administrators make sense of the policies they are asked to implement. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: reiddav1@msu.edu.


The author would like to thank the Michigan State University College of Education for their support of this work.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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