Exploring teacher hiring: Are we asking the right questions
Grupka, Patricia E.
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If we are to accept the premise that good teachers do in fact make a difference to students in the classroom, then we must make every effort to place the best teachers in those positions. The challenge for school hiring agents is how to determine who are the best teachers, and how they will select the best from the large pool of teaching applicants available. This study was designed to determine to what extent the questions asked during the new teacher interview align with the qualities of effective teaching utilizing two frameworks: the Revised New York State Annual Professional Performance Review standards (2010) and Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Effective Teaching (2009). This study will also examine the differences, and correlations, between the numbers of questions that were asked by participant and school demographic groups which aligned to qualities of effective teaching. A second part of this research was to determine if the assessment tool used to rank new teacher candidates aligned with the qualities of effective teaching using the same frameworks. This mixed methods study involved requesting source documents from 20 participants of interview questions provided by school hiring agents, along with the measuring tool used to assess the answers. The respondents were primarily principals. 17 participants provided interview questions, only two provided rating tools. One was a 1-4 Likert scale placed next to each question and the other was a rating sheet that did not rate the answers to questions, but instead other unrelated characteristics. In addition to the source document review, a brief interview was held with each participant that was used to inform the study. The questions asked during the interview were coded, sorted, and tabulated by the number of times a question was asked in each category of effective teaching. The data was then sorted by participant and school demographics to reveal patterns or differences in the qualities addressed within the questions. A compendium of questions was created, containing lists of questions that align with each quality of effective teaching. All participants who submitted questions asked questions related to New York State Standards 2: Knowledge of content and instructional planning and 7: Professional growth, and Danielson's Domains 1: Planning and preparation and 4: Professional responsibilities. Participants addressed other qualities off effectiveness to varying degrees. There existed many differences and correlations to the extent in which attributes of effective teaching were addressed. While all participants addressed the areas of instruction, lesson planning and preparation, and professional responsibilities, the extent to which desired qualities of effective teaching are addressed during new teacher interviews is contextual. In the sample studied, factors such as school type, student population, and principal background effect the extent to which different aspects of effective teaching were addressed. While the participant's reported themselves as responsible for the questions asked during the interview, they were often not the authors of the questions. Every participant spoke of a committee process, which included colleagues and school community members. The interview is one of the most frequently used tools in teacher hiring, yet the level of its effectiveness remains in question. This study hopes to contribute to the field of school human resources and teacher hiring by leading school hiring agents to be more thoughtful about the interview questions they asked during the new teacher hiring process, and to how they measure the answers. It will also raise awareness for the need to create policies and procedures that enhance the hiring process.