PRINCIPALS' PERCEPTIONS OF BARRIERS TO DISMISSAL OF POOR-PERFORMING TEACHERS
Dandoy, Jason Robert
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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Abstract The purpose of this study is to determine which factors influence items that school principals consider "barriers" to dismissal of "incompetent" or "poor performing" teachers. This study determines if specific characteristics of schools, principals, or a combination of the two can predict the specific barriers cited by principals as the reasons for renewing contracts of poor performing teachers. By identifying causes for the tolerance of poor-performing teachers, school officials and educational institutions may take a more proactive approach to training principals and hopefully prevent the repetition of this problematic administrative behavior. Data from the 2007-2008 Schools and Staffing Survey is used to provide insight into the quantitative study questions. In this survey, principals indicated items that they considered to be barriers to dismissal of poor-performing teachers. Items that principals considered to be barriers to dismissal serve as the outcome variables. Characteristics of schools and school administrators serve as the predicting variables. Questions are answered within the educational and legal context that permits and restrains the ability of a school district to make contract decisions based on teacher performance. Major findings of this study identify that principals cite "union presence", "tenure", "length of time", and "effort required for documentation" as the most common barriers to dismissal of poor-performing teachers. In order to decrease the presence of these barriers, this study found that principal training and district support are important; specifically, involvement in professional development for principals and involvement by curriculum specialists. Principals who were enthusiastic and motivated to do their jobs also reported the presence of barriers less frequently. Those who were tired of the work, had dissatisfied staffs, or lacked enthusiasm were more burdened by the challenges of removing low-performing teachers. Of the barriers studied, few characteristics of principals or schools assisted in reducing the principals' reports that union presence created a barrier. Conclusions of this study suggest that district administrators need to take a proactive approach to ensuring that principals receive support and maintain enthusiasm to do the work. Providing professional development to principals, specifically in the areas of staff evaluation, is a recommendation. Supporting principals with curriculum specialists or other district administrators will also aid in the reduction of barriers to dismissal of poor-performing teachers.
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