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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

affects student achievement before suggesting that practices or procedures be changed. For principals, it is important that they exert influence at their school on establishing the curriculum and setting standards for student performance. Coupled with maintaining teacher efficacy in the three areas noted, this action has the potential for sustaining teacher commitment even in the face of failing to meet performance standards. Principals who are strong in curriculum knowledge and well-informed about how to help teachers modify their instruction and supports to students so they reach high performance standards will serve the school well in terms of building staff commitment. But the principal also should be willing to respond to teachers in the three areas where teachers value their efficacy. Instructional leadership in effective schools involves both principals and teachers. While a failure to meet student performance standards was associated with lower teacher commitment, this can be ameliorated with principal leadership and the presence of the three forms of teacher efficacy, suggesting that clear and high student performance goals associated with NCLB play an important role in sustaining teacher commitment. Since evidence indicates that focus on student achievement plays an important role in building teacher commitment, educational leaders can view the emphasis on students’ academic growth as a teacher motivator. With regard to consequences for failing to meet performance standards, reducing resources and requiring a school choice option can bring increased teacher commitment. On the other hand, providing cash bonuses and additional resources directly to teachers and requiring supplemental educational resources likely will reduce teacher commitment. Leaders should be sensitive to these distinctions in fashioning consequences for failing to meet student performance goals. For example, when a school fails to meet performance standards, giving resources directly to the teacher or requiring provision of supplemental educational services may actually reduce teacher commitment while providing additional resources that support school wide activities may enhance it. As a simple example, teacher commitment may be strengthened by providing books to an elementary school on a school-wide basis for content area reading rather than giving funds to a specific teacher. Or, providing funding for evenings when parents might be instructed in how to use content area books with their children could also strengthen teacher commitment. Providing resources to the whole school reinforces the notion that fulfilling a school’s mission is everyone’s obligation. Offering students and families the choice of attending other schools in the district may actually increase teacher commitment. This is not likely to be an activity engaged in by the teacher at the school level, but rather an alternative available at the district level. What this analysis cannot determine is whether this variable’s impact on teacher commitment is attributable to the narrowing of the focus of a school’s mission by students moving to schools 53

Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1