AEFP 45th Annual Conference

Toward a Meaningful Impact through Research, Policy & Practice

March 19-21, 2020

Assessing Teachers’ Perceptions of Human Capital Management System Alignment of Teacher Leadership Initiatives

Presenter: 
Matthew Finster, Westat, matthewfinster@westat.com

It is argued that the educator workforce can be strengthened by aligning human capital management practices with each other and the competencies required of educators to realize the organization’s vision of instructional improvement (e.g., Heneman & Milanowski, 2011a). Education researchers and reform advocates (Almy & Tooley, 2012; Curtis, 2010; Darling-Hammond, 2012; Garet et. al., 2010; Heneman & Milanowski, 2004; Odden, 2011) have pointed out that a strategic approach human capital management systems (HCMS) supports innovations like rigorous performance evaluation, strategic professional development, and performance-based compensation by ensuring that reforms are reinforcing and that practices are coupled with support and consequences. However, there are few (if any) studies that examine HCMS alignment specifically for teachers working in teacher leader (TL) roles. Given the surge in teacher leadership programs across the county (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009; Killion & Harrison, 2006; Murphy, 2005; Wenner & Campbell, 2017; York-Barr & Duke, 2004), it is becoming increasingly important to assess the alignment of differentiated TL roles.
This study presents a quantitative approach to assessing perceptions of HCMS alignment in teacher leadership initiatives and demonstrates how the goals of the initiatives, functions, and competencies used for selection and addressed by professional development are related to the perceived effects of the TL initiatives. Using data from a fall SY2018–19 Midwestern statewide teacher survey (n = 522) and structural equation modeling techniques, this study examines the alignment of teachers’ perceptions of TL components based on a state TL framework, and the extent that the TL components are related across HR components. We hypothesized that the survey items measured five aspects of teacher leader HCM: 1) the perceived goals of teacher leadership at the school (Goals: F1); 2) the leadership functions the teachers filled (Functions: F2); 3) the criteria used to select into teacher leader role (Selection competencies: F3); 4) the professional development topics or competencies addressed by teacher leader training that respondents received (Professional development: F4); and 5) the perceived effects of the role on the teacher leader (Perceived effects: F5). If HCM systems that support teacher leadership are aligned, we would expect that perceptions of each component would be related. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the goals of teacher leadership at the school (i.e., fostering a collaborative culture, advancing instruction and student learning, driving initiatives, practicing equity and ethics, and building relationships and partnerships) would be indicative of the functions of the teacher leaders. The functions of the teacher leaders would be used to identify the selection competencies of the teacher leaders and would indicate the topics or core competencies addressed during training and professional development. The functions, selection criteria, and professional development would be related to the perceived effects of the teacher leaders. The goodness-of-fit statistics for the SEM are in the adequate-fitting ranges with the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) value is below .05, the Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and Tucker‐Lewis Fit Index (TLI) values are above the .90 cutoff for adequate fit (Browne & Cudeck, 1993; Byrne, 2012; Hu & Bentler, 1999). The structural model parameter standardized estimates are all significant and range from .12 (Perceived Effects on Functions) to .73 (Selection on Functions). These results show that teachers who perceived the local teacher leadership initiative to be aimed at more goals also performed more functions, and those who performed more functions also perceived that more competencies were used for selection, and that they received professional development on more topics related to the functions. This suggests that districts and schools were somewhat successful in aligning the design of the TL roles with the goals of the TL initiative, and the two HCM practices (selection and professional development) to the leadership functions the teachers performed. In addition, teachers who perceived selection based on more competencies and receiving professional development on more topics perceived more positive effects of their teacher leadership role, suggesting positive effects of alignment. This study makes three unique contributions to the literature on HCM in education. First, this analysis represents a first attempt to develop a new approach to assessing HCM alignment, using perceptions of those who experience the HCM practices and structural equation modeling to assess whether the relationships among these perceptions are consistent with expectations for an aligned system. Second, the study is the only one of which we are aware that tests whether aligned HCM practices are associated with desired effects, in this case on teacher practice and satisfaction. Third, the study illustrates how alignment analysis can be applied to teacher leader roles.

Poster: 

Comments

Nice visualization of the results! What is the response rate for the survey? In a full paper version of this work, I'd be interested in know a little more about the teacher demographics, indicators of teacher quality, and how teachers came to be selected (both who did the selecting and on what basis). I'm also curious about where teacher perceptions indicate that the design did NOT align with the goals; I suspect this would be very helpful feedback for the districts. Thank you for sharing your work! If you have any questions about my comments, you can reach me at carajed@gmail.com.

This is a really interesting study. A few questions for clarification: 1) what do you mean by "Alignment" and why is this important in an HCMS, and in particular for teacher leaders? I ask because I think alignment *is* important and the potential lack of alignment may be one reason why some HCMSs have been less successful than their implementers would have liked. A clear definition and justification for alignment would help policymakers consider this feature in program design. 2) what kinds of roles are TL roles? what does this mean? In a paper version of this poster, making this clear and justifying why we worry about this population in particular will be helpful to motivate your study. 3) what is the RR for teachers to the surveys, or was it only given to TLs (and if so what was their RR)? I look forward to reading a paper version of this study!

On your poster, you indicate that "districts and schools were somewhat successful in aligning the design of the TL roles with the goals of the TL initiative." That language suggest that alignment was not perfect. In what ways was alignment imperfect? What steps could schools and districts take to improve alignment?

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