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Supporting data for "Neoliberalism and Teacher Appraisal Policies and Practices in China"

posted on 2021-11-19, 04:06 authored by Hejia Shi

Neoliberalism has gained powerful influence in political and economic field since the 1980s worldwide, and has promoted a marketization process in educational systems by means of privatization, commodification and quantification. In the context of China since the Economic Reform and Opening Up, marketization policy trend has also been widely identified in reforms of labor, welfare, health, and housing policies, as well as in the field of education: private schools proliferated due to deregulation and fiscal support; tutoring market grew into a threat to educational equality; non-formal teachers in public schools became dispatch laborers, etc.

To explore more specific neoliberal impacts on teacher appraisal under this particular context, multiple-cases design was adopted to include one public and three private schools as units for comparative analysis, and Critical Discourse Analysis was adopted as the guiding theory for data analysis. Multiple forms of data including principal interviews, teacher interviews, parent interviews, school documents and field notes of participatory observation were collected at school level, and all policies concerning private school, tutoring market, teacher appraisal and school management were collected at national, provincial and municipal level.

Findings of school analysis suggested that: 1) for-profit private schools embodied typical neoliberal impacts as holding teachers to market accountability, appraising teachers by economic values and oppressing teachers’ voice; 2) non-profit private school compromised to market accountability by holding teachers accountable to students’ performance, but also endeavored to include professional development activities; 3) public school was basically independent from market impacts in terms of the Professional Title Appraisal, students’ survey and teacher-parent relationship through the Parent’s Committee, but still embodied neoliberal quantification in the Performance Appraisal, and compromised to parental demands when they appealed to the media or the administrative superior. Meanwhile, the democratic organization of Teacher’s Congress in public schools and the retained intervention power in government functioned as counter-neoliberal forces to handle conflicts brought by neoliberal changes in the Performance Appraisal.

Findings of teacher analysis told another half of the story that: 1) internalized professional ethics played an important role in raising teacher’s critical awareness of neoliberal teacher appraisal; 2) exemplary teachers dedicated to pedagogic values managed to contribute alternative discourse to compete with neoliberal teacher appraisal; and 3) professional learning communities provided indispensable supports for teacher’s agency against neoliberal teacher appraisal; yet, 4) teachers in for-profit private schools experienced more frustration and conflicts with their autonomy when their voice was silenced in schools’ disposal of teacher-parent disputes.

These findings implied that: the more dependence on the market, the less autonomy for teachers; the more emphasis on economic values, the less importance to pedagogic values. Therefore, restoration of pedagogic values in teacher appraisal is called for with greater support for professional learning communities, and more efficient ways are needed to include private school teachers in professional-oriented teacher appraisal with more labor protection.