Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ruby E. Burgess


Well-designed research-based evaluation instruments have been implemented in school districts in a southwest U.S. state; however, it was unclear how elementary teachers were using an evaluation instrument as a formative tool to guide their instructional practices. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand how elementary teachers’ perceptions and experiences influenced their use of an evaluation instrument to improve their instructional practices. Marzano’s focused teacher evaluation model provided the conceptual framework for the study. The research questions focused on elementary teachers’ perceptions and experiences with using an evaluation instrument as a guide for their instructional practices. A purposeful sample of elementary teachers employed with the study district for a minimum of seven years identified study participants. Data were collected from one-on-one semistructured phone interviews with 9 elementary teachers from a school district in a southwest U.S. state. Thematic analysis, including open and axial coding, revealed that elementary teachers perceive the evaluation instrument as a tool to plan and prepare for their annual evaluation and not as a formative tool for guiding the improvement of their instructional practices. Findings further indicated the need to align the interpretation of the evaluation instrument districtwide. The results were used to create a 3-day professional development plan that aligns the instrument’s interpretation and practice for improving classroom instruction districtwide. Findings may promote improved understanding among educators, educational leaders, and education agencies regarding the use of a well-designed evaluation instrument to improve instructional practices in every classroom, leading to every student's improved academic performance.