Faculty & Research

Recent Publications - Journal Articles

The Politics of Teacher Reform in Florida: Analyzing Causal Narratives Surrounding State Adoption of Performance-Based Evaluations, Performance Pay, and Tenure Elimination

Harrison, C., & Cohen-Vogel, L.
Peabody Journal of Education, 87 (5): 517-534 (2012)

DOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2012.723489Information about DOI

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Following a multiyear debate, Florida lawmakers passed the “Student Success Act” in March 2011, introducing some of the most sweeping educational reforms in the state's history—the introduction of teacher evaluation systems based on value-added modeling, mandatory “performance pay” for teachers, and the elimination of long-term professional service contracts. Using Stone's (1989) Causal Stories framework, this article analyzes arguments made for and against these reforms by numerous policy actors. Analysis of transcripts, news coverage, and policy reports reveals that actors on both sides of the debate constructed competing stories regarding the “causes” of poor student achievement. These competing causal narratives were central to actors’ efforts to define the nature of the educative process, identify the “players” who controlled student learning, and portray the proposed reforms as solutions to the problem of underachievement, on one hand, or ill-conceived and poorly targeted answers, on the other.

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