The beady eye of the professional development appraisal system: a Foucauldian cross-case analysis of the teacher evaluation system
The purpose of this deconstructive case study was to conduct a Foucauldian power/knowledge analysis constructed from the perceptions of three teachers at an intermediate school in South Texas regarding the role of the teacher evaluation process and its influence on instructional practices. Using Foucault's (1977a) work on power/knowledge, of special interest were issues of surveillance, binary relationships, discipline and punishment, and accommodations and resistance. Grounded in the history and politics of evaluation in public education, this study situates the role of Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS), which is the teacher evaluation system in Texas on instructional practices. The findings indicate that PDAS has served to generate a strong oppressive network of power relations wherein the participants continually struggle between resisting and realigning themselves to the grand narrative of what it means to get the desired label assigned to them through the evaluation checklist system. The strength of the network has impacted the participants to the extent that they have become institutionalized in their instructional practices, disciplined themselves even when not needed, and surrendered their agency repeatedly. Consequently, the teachers became similar to each other in appearance, much like widgets. The implications for this study reflect the role various stakeholders and power relations can play in the teacher evaluation process, including teachers, administrators, teacher educators, and educational leaders.