The Wicked Problem of the Intersection between Supervision and Evaluation



The purpose of this research was to explore how principals in eight high-functioning elementary schools in one American school district balanced teacher supervision and evaluation in their role as an instructional leader. Using the theoretical framework of ‘wicked problems’, to unpack the circular used to problematize teacher supervision and evaluation, the findings analyse how elementary principals in these eight buildings acknowledge the tensions and conflicts between supervision and evaluation, specifically as they relate to improving teacher instruction. Specifically, the results of this study highlight not only the differences between supervision and evaluation, but also the intersection between the two functions, as well as how high-performing elementary school principals serve as an instructional coach rather than a manager of teachers. While the two functions of supervision and evaluation are inherently different, it is the acknowledgement of the intersection between the two functions that can allow building principals to progress as instructional coaches who can better develop human resources and create higher-functioning school systems. Overall, this study points toward the importance of elementary principals having the instructional leadership skills to differentiate supervision and professional development need for teachers, which in turn influences the evaluation of a teacher is in her/his respective career.


Teacher supervision, Teacher evaluation, Instructional supervision, Instructional leadership

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic Educational Administration
Pages 709 - 724
Issue IEJEE, Volume 9, Issue 3
Date of acceptance 13 February 2017
Read (times) 557
Downloaded (times) 229

Author(s) Details


University of Maine, United States


Springfield Public Schools, United States


Springfield Public Schools, United States


University of Wyoming, United States


William Woods University, United States


University of Maine, United States


Alila, S., Määttä, K., & Uusiautti, S. (2015). How does supervision support inclusive teacherhood? International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 8(3), 351-362.

Beach, D. M., & Reinhartz, J. (1989). Supervision: Focus on instruction. New York: Harper & Row.

Burns, R., Jacobs, J., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2015, October). In search of a common framework of pre-service teacher supervision using meta-analysis. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision, Ft. Worth, TX.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). Getting teacher evaluation right: What really matters for effectiveness and improvement. New York: Teachers College Press.

Datnow, A., & Castellano, M. E. (2001). Managing and guiding school reform: Leadership in success for all schools. Educational Administrative Quarterly, 37(2), 219-249.

DeSander, M. K. (2000). Teacher evaluation and merit pay: Legal considerations, practical concerns. Journal of personnel evaluation in education, 14(4), 307-317.

Eady, C. K., & Zepeda, S. J. (2007). Evaluation supervision, and staff development under mandated reform: The perceptions and practices of rural middle school principals. The Rural Educator, 28(2), 1-7.

Glickman, C. D. (2013, October). Good and/or effective schools: What do we mean? Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision, State College, PA.

Glickman, C. D., Gordon, S. P., & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (2014). SuperVision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach (9th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Goldsberry, L. (2014, October). Where goes supervision as a field of study? Considering purpose, practice, and results. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision, Atlanta, GA.

Goldstein, J. (2007). Easy to dance to: Solving the problems of teacher evaluation with peer assistance and review. American Journal of Education, 113(3), 479-508.

Hazi H. M. (2016, October). A letter to the field: An elder proposes reconciliation with teacher evaluation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision, Tampa, FL.

Hazi, H. M., & Rucinski, D. A. (2009). Teacher evaluation as a policy target for improved student learning: A fifty-state review of statute and regulatory action since NCLB. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 17(5), 1-19.

Hinchey, P. H. (2010). Getting teacher assessment right: What policymakers can learn from research. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

Koski, W. S. (2012). Teacher collective bargaining, teacher quality, and the teacher quality gap: Toward a policy analytic framework. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 6, 67-90.

Margolis, C. & Buchanan, R. (1995). The idea of design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marks, H. M., & Nance, J. P. (2007). Contexts of accountability under systemic reform: Implications for principal influence on instruction and supervision. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(1), 3-37.

Marshall, K. (2013). Rethinking teacher supervision and evaluation: How to work smart, build collaboration, and close the achievement gap. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Marzano, R. J., & Toth, M. (2013). Teacher evaluation that makes a difference: A new model for teacher growth and student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Memduhoglu, H. B. (2012). The issue of education supervision in Turkey in the views of teachers, administrators, supervisors, and lecturers. Educational Sciences; Theory and Practice, 12(1), 149-156.

Mette, I. M., & Fairman, J. (2016). Piloting PE/PG systems in Maine school districts: Lessons learned. Augusta, ME: Maine Education Policy Research Institute.

Mette, I. M., Range, B. G., Anderson, J., Hvidston, D. J., & Nieuwenhuizen, L. (2015). Teachers’ perceptions of teacher supervision and evaluation: A reflection of school improvement practices in the age of reform. Educational Leadership Review, 16(1), 16-30.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Monk, D. H. (2008). Reflections and commentary from the field: Connecting the reform of administrator preparation to the reform of teacher preparation. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(2), 282-295.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, § 115, Stat. 1425 (2002).

Oliva, P. F., & Pawlas, G. E. (2004). Supervision for today’s schools (7th ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Platt, A. D., Tripp, C. E., Ogden, W. R., & Fraser, R. G. (2000). The Skillful Leader: Confronting Mediocre Teaching. Acton, Massachusetts: Ready About Press.

Ponticell, J. A., & Zepeda, S. J. (2004). Confronting well-learned lessons in supervision and evaluation. NASSP Bulletin, 88(639), 43-59.

Range, B. G., Anderson, J., Hvidston, D. J., & Mette, I. M. (2013). How teachers’ perceive principal supervision and evaluation in eight elementary schools. Journal of Research in Education, 23(2), 65-78.

Range, B. G., McKim, C., Mette, I. M., & Hvidston, D. J. (2014). Aspiring principals’ perspectives about teacher supervision and evaluation: Insights for educational leadership preparation programs. Educational Leadership Review, 15(1), 1-17.

Rittel, H., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4, 155-169.

Ryan, T. G., & Gottfried, J. (2012). Elementary SuperVision and the supervisor: Teacher attitudes and inclusive education. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 4(3), 563-571.

Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.

Sergiovanni, T. J., & Starratt, R. J. (2002). Supervision: A redefinition (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Southgate, E., Reynolds, R., & Howley, P. (2013). Professional experience as a wicked problem in initial teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 31, 13-22.

Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., & Keeling, D. (2009). The widget effect. Brooklyn, NY: The New Teacher Project.

Wiles J, Bondi J (2004) Supervision: A guide to practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Prentice Hall.

Zepeda, S. J. (2012). Instructional supervision: Applying tools and concepts (3rd ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.