A matrix of music supervisors' stories in the midst of school reform
Katz-Cote, Heather Michele
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Race to the Top (RttP) was used to focus school reform on the improvement of teaching through teacher evaluation based on student growth data. Papay (2012) was among the researchers who argued that “evaluators must be well-trained, knowledgeable about effective teaching practices, as defined in the standards, and able to analyze observed practices to determine how well teachers are meeting those standards” (p.135). Hill and Grossman (2013) claimed that, in the current era of reform, content-area experts were the best means of supporting teachers and helping them improve their practice. In light of this assertion, music supervisors have vital expertise, yet they are seldom represented in the music education research literature. Craig’s framework of knowledge communities arising on the knowledge landscape was essential to this inquiry. I made the assumption that, because music supervisors interact consistently with teachers as well as other administrators, their knowledge landscapes are complex, and I wondered which knowledge communities shaped music supervisors’ professional practice, and also how their story constellations were shaped in the midst of education reform brought about by Race to the Top. Through narrative inquiry, I was able to depict the lives of myself and two other music supervisors. We recorded six conversations, and I created transcripts from those recordings. The participants and I engaged in co-construction of an interim text until each of us was satisfied that the transcriptions sufficiently illustrated the complexity of his or her temporality, sociality, and place. The final research text was represented in script form as ten scenes related to the themes we uncovered, and I subsequently interpreted those scenes. In our story constellations, reform stories were about trying to link evaluation of student growth to evaluation of teachers with no model to follow, while our stories of reform were about moving to a system where multiple sources of evidence were brought to bear in teacher evaluation. Our reform stories expressed fears that lack of validity in student growth assessments would eventually dishearten teachers, but in stories of reform, we expressed that teachers should be deeply engaged in considering how their students’ growth was best demonstrated.