Who Should Get “Ineffective”? A Principal’s Ethical Dilemmas on Teacher Evaluation

Dr. Taeyeon Kim

Who Should Get “Ineffective”? A Principal’s Ethical Dilemmas on Teacher Evaluation

23 Jun 2021    

Taeyeon Kim, Charles Lowery


It’s no secret that school principals play a critical role in evaluating teachers and providing feedback, but high-stakes evaluation policies at the local and state levels can create ethical dilemmas for principals.

In this case, Dr. Taeyeon Kim, assistant professor of educational administration at UNL, and Dr. Charles Lowery, associate professor of educational studies at Ohio University, reveal an underresourced rural school principal has to report a certain number of “ineffective” teachers to meet a requirement from the district teacher evaluation, even though the principal does not think any teacher in his school deserves to receive an “ineffective” rating.

Drs. Kim and Lowery sought to discover more about the practical ethical dilemmas in school leadership. Their study, “Who Should Get “Ineffective”? A Principal’s Ethical Dilemmas on Teacher Evaluation'' can be used to help students and practicing principals unpack complicated dilemmas coming from high stakes accountability policies and principals’ daily practice and ethos.

The purpose of this paper was a resource for a principal preparation program. Dr. Kim said she found her virtual case informed by the real world dilemmas and questions to discuss for class activities offers critical insights for both leaders and leadership educators to understand the complexity of political economy that shapes accountability policies and how this environment can undermine humanity that educational leaders want to carry on.

“I want to highlight that utilizing case-driven discussions in leadership preparation is valuable to help educational leaders navigate problems and solutions in a real situation,” Kim said. “For example, my colleague Dr. Shavonna Holman at UNL adopts a virtual simulation approach to help future leaders develop and apply skill sets to solve problems. My JCEL article serves a similar role and guides leadership educators to challenge adult learners by situating them within a complicated dilemma situation to navigate the roots of the problem and possible solutions as leaders.”

Dr. Kim joined UNL in 2020 as an assistant professor of educational leadership. Her research focuses on how leaders’ voices and strategies intersect with school organizations and policy contexts. Specifically, she examines policy enactment in school settings whereby leaders and educators interpret and transform policy, and leadership development in school organizations by applying learning theories.

Dr. Lowery serves as associate professor of educational studies at Ohio University, where he studies moral democratic agency of school leaders, transformational leadership, and qualitative research methods.

Educational Administration