Beyond Traditional Measures of Teacher Quality: Incorporating Cultural Competence to Measure Classroom Community
Van Eaton, Grant Waller
This study explores the necessity and validity of including cultural competence as a dimension of the construct of quality teaching and classroom community. Through an analysis of existing measures, cultural competence was found to be missing across widely-adopted measures of teacher quality; in contrast, the literature on cultural competence in education, as well studies documenting the importance and validity of including cultural competence in measures of quality medical education, point to the importance of expanding the dominant construct of teacher quality to include aspects of cultural competence. In response to this need, this dissertation analyzes a new observation rubric, the Vision for Student Learning (VfSL). The VfSL is not a traditional, evaluative measure of teacher quality; instead, it is a formative measure of classroom community that scores classrooms based on student actions, rather than teacher actions. The VfSL is grouped into three dimensions: Safe, Brave, and Equitable Classrooms; Rigorous and Culturally Relevant Learning; and Perseverance to Goals. Using exploratory factor analysis and item response theory (IRT) models, this dissertation demonstrates that the VfSL is both reliable and valid as a measure of classroom community, providing initial evidence that inclusion of cultural competence in observation rubrics is both possible and desirable when used strictly to provide formative feedback. Furthermore, the factor structure of the VfSL empirically affirms the theoretically-driven design of the first two dimensions of the measurement instrument and provides evidence that the skills of building classroom culture and enacting rigorous instruction are distinct skill sets that should be targeted to improve classroom community. Revisions to the design of the instrument are suggested based on findings from the factor and IRT analyses. Additionally, while the VfSL shows sensitivity across various demographic groups, researchers and practitioners utilizing the VfSL should be cautious to ensure that any observed differences in classroom community across lines of race and gender are not a function of rater or item bias.