Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University
Using Congressional testimony on teacher quality from 2003 to 2015 and analysis of 60 elite interviews, we assess how two key factors influenced the debate over teacher evaluation policies: 1) informational inputs- based on mentions of research; 2) resource dependence- based on grants from major funders supporting teacher evaluation reform. Our analysis of two-mode networks of policy preferences and actors from congressional hearings shows that resource dependence better predicts support for teacher evaluation policies- especially during the shift from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Research mentions are not a significant factor for predicting support for teacher evaluation. By comparison, research mentions by witnesses are associated with other types of teacher quality preferences. We also draw from qualitative interviews to show how key education funders interacted with the policy process and coalesced around support for evaluation. Overall, our findings suggest that resources, rather than research, played a larger role in federal policy discussions of teacher evaluation.