The Initial Research Proposal for PhD

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The working of performativity

: How is the teacher assessment enacted?1
Masaaki KATSUNO2
Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 3-6 September 2008


Assuming that teachers in Japan spend more time than before on the activities which are likely to lead to specific, measurable and conspicuous attainments, this may be accounted for by the fact that they have to self-account for their performance and competences, in addition to being assessed by their head teachers. During the recent years, almost all of the local boards of education across the country have put re-designed schemes of teacher evaluation into operation. Interestingly enough, the new schemes employ the procedures almost identical with those of the performance management for teachers in England and Wales (Department for Education and Employmnet, 1998; Department for Education and Employment, 2000; Richardson, 1999; Gleeson & Husbands, 2001).

Developmental and collaborative elements, such as goal-setting and assessment meetings with the head teacher, lesson observation, and self-review of performance and competences, have been added to the original plans. However, judging from a survey of union member teachers in Tokyo where a new teacher evaluation was first introduced, despite the re-modeling, the policy and practices have been perceived rather negatively (Tokyo Metropolitan Highschool Teachers Staff Union, 2005). This is understandable given the memory of fierce confrontation over the efficiency rating plan of teachers in the late 1950s (see, for example, Duke(1973) and Aspinal(2001)) and recent debates over the introduction of new schemes of teacher evaluation as substitutes for the old plans.

It seems that the acclaimed conversion into ‘professional development model’ (Study Group on Teachers Personnel Evaluation, 1999) of teacher evaluation has failed to gain confidence on the part of teachers. The new schemes, as well as their predecessors, have been accused of their divisive effects on collaborative relationships and works of teachers (Katsuno, 2003; Fujita, 2005). Thus, some teachers doubt the promised effectiveness of the new schemes. Others still suspect that the new schemes are devices of the government control, as was the case with the old plans. This latter suspicion may be justified by a following description of what Sharon Gewirtz would call ‘post-welfarist’ (Gewirtz, 2002) economic and education reform in Japan.
New teacher evaluation in the reform context

Structural Reform of Education

The Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (in office from April 2001 through September 2006) pursued a comprehensive societal restructuring agenda called ‘Structural Reform’ to revitalize the national economy in the aftermath of collapsed ‘bubble economy’. In common with reforms based on either neo-liberalism or New Right ideology in Anglo-American and some other European countries (Pollitt, 1990; Clarke & Newman, 1997), the Japanese ‘Structural Reform’ has targeted the expanding public sector spending and challenged the bureaucratic system. Public education, alongside health and care, insurance and pension, has been made subject to deregulation, marketisation and also decentralisation. Thus, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology (Monbukagakusho), as self-styled guardian of public education, was forced to take survival measures.

As Nakajima (2006) wrote, the Ministry was now desperate to place compulsory schooling within the national strategy to make Japan ‘a frontrunner leading the world in industry, making the most of globalisation in realising economic growth’ (Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, 2006). The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the most powerful policy maker of the day, was headed by the Prime Minister and constituted of relevant members of the Cabinet, the Governor of the Bank of Japan and business leaders. To achieve the goal cited above, the Council emphasised the importance of concentrating domestic resources on areas in which Japan has an advantage and then utilising overseas resources to make up for any insufficiency. In the backdrop, there was a concern that Japan might remain unable to keep up with the realities of globalisation and find itself overwhelmed by those nations enjoying rapid growth, such as BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Thus, it declared the need to strengthen international competitiveness in human resources in the following way:

Human resources which are well qualified to engage in international activities, and which are also going to be the main players in the future labour market, must be secured in terms of both quality and quantity. For this purpose, we will aim to achieve world top-level performance in international testing of academic ability by the year 2010. (Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, 2006, p. 4)

Restructuring education so that excellent human resources can be efficiently fed into economy will necessitate a new form of organisation and control of schooling. Responding to this demand, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology (Monbukagakusho), following the report of the Central Council on Education which is an advisory body accountable to the Minister, now began to refer to its own reform agenda as ‘Structural Reform of Compulsory Education’ (Central Council on Education, 2005). In its leaflet entitled as such, the Ministry declared that compulsory schooling system was in need of structural reform to assure its quality by means of establishing a new relationship between the state and education system. The central government will play a role of setting national objectives, securing ‘input’ (i.e. national course of study, fully prepared teachers, funding), and auditing ‘outcome’ through national testing of academic achievement and school evaluation, while the responsibility for ‘process’ is to be set on the shoulders of local governments and schools (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology, 2005, p. 1)
New Regime of management of education

The imperative of the Structural Reform was underpinned by the introduction of market forces into aspects of public education. Here lay a basic assumption that the public sector, compared with the private sector, is bureaucratic, self-serving and inefficient. Thus, the quasi-market reforms, based on private business systems, were introduced to allow for the centralised micro-management of education. This involved focused interventions in which accountability, developments and outcomes are subjected to management at both the macro and micro educational levels (Gleeson & Husbands, 2001).

At macro-educational level, as mentioned earlier, the new reform agenda of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology seeks to reallocate the responsibility and authorities in terms of not simply funding but public education in general between the stakeholders, with the state itself assuming the role of setting nationwide objectives of education and establishing national testing and evaluation regimes to ensure that these objectives should be attained. In December 2006, the Fundamental Law of Education was revised. Under the new legal framework, economic demands can be more easily translated into national objectives of education (Katsuno, 2007). From 2007 onward every year, students of 12 and 15 years old are to sit for new national achievement tests.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology launched a new initiative called ‘Quality Assurance of Compulsory Education’ (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology, 2006). The policy package included promotion of self-evaluation of school, in line with the Guidelines for School Evaluation at Compulsory Education Stage published by the Ministry, and commencement of pilot studies into school evaluation carried out by the third party, taking as a model the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) of England (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology, 2006; Katsuno & Takei, 2008).

At micro-educational level, the idea and procedures of management by objectives (MBO) have come to constitute an integral part of the new regime of educational management. The MBO strongly demands ‘linkages’ among school mission, head teacher’s management policy, objectives of middle-level groups such as subject groups, tutor groups, administrative committee on the one hand, and those of individual teachers on the other. For instance, School Evaluation Guideline published by Chiba Prefecture Board of Education (2003) required teachers to set their own objectives firmly based on the organizational objectives, hailing MBO as “a method of management by means of which individual staff can attain objectives, bringing her/his autonomy and self-control into full play”. It also claimed that MBO is different from practices of the superior forcing work quotas on the subordinate. However, Gleeson and Gunter would call this a device of control or ‘self-regulatory management task’ (Gleeson & Gunter, 2001, p. 146).

In the UK, according to Gleeson & Husbands (2001), performance management of teachers acts as a policy device which binds together micro and macro forms of intervention which involve measured levels of teacher, pupil and school performance, connected to external inspection, funding, pay, staffing and resources. Teachers have become micro ‘managed’ to the point that their productivity can be measured locally against national standards in terms of the test results and examination performances of their students. In Japan as well, the government exhibits growing interest in effectiveness and development, but basically in line with the national objectives. In this context, it is plausible that the interest in new professional development model of teacher evaluation is still underpinned by the government’s intention to control, with enhanced ‘responsibilisation’ (Kelly, 2001) on the part of teachers. With the state’s power to draw up comprehensive educational objectives and programs being legitimized, the audit regime of national testing and school evaluation established, and managerial power at institutional level enhanced, all within the parameters of market reform, the ‘quality cycle’ (Gleeson & Gunter, 2001, p. 148) will be completed through controlling individual teachers’ performance and competencies. Needless to say, this is a thesis to be explored.

What’s happening to the process of teacher evaluation?

Teachers’ experiences and perceptions of new teacher evaluation

How are the new teacher evaluation schemes enacted in schools? How do teachers experience and perceive them? Can we justify the thesis that teacher evaluation is an effective mechanism of government control of teacher performance and competences, as opposed to the opportunity for authentic professional development? These are the central questions of the author’s ongoing research project, partial and provisional results of which the present paper shall present.

As indicated earlier, the Tokyo Metropolitan Senior High School Teachers and Staff Union has intermittently conducted questionnaire surveys, to probe the member teachers’ views on the new teacher evaluation. Asked about the impact of new scheme of teacher evaluation on their work and school management, the union members have been definitely negative over the waves of survey. In 2001, 75.5% of the respondent felt that the new schemes had ‘unfavourable impacts’. The percentage rose to 83.0% in 2003 and further to 86.5% in 2005. The union members who felt so were asked further to indicate what the impacts are like in more concrete terms.

As Table 1 shows, the unfavorable impacts which have been most frequently chosen included ‘less relaxed and animated atmosphere at the school’, ‘lower morale of the staff’, ‘worsen relationship between the manager and teachers’, and ‘worsen teamwork among the staff’. More specifically, in response to the question, “Did the performance review carried out by the head teacher and its link to remuneration help to enhance your own morale?”, only 0.3% answered positively, while 56.1% did negatively. Roughly a quarter thought that the performance review and performance-related pay had no particular impact on their own motivation or morale (Tokyo Metropolitan Highschool Teachers Staff Union, 2005, pp. 10-11).

Table 1. The ‘unfavourable’ impacts of the new teacher evaluation perceived by union member teachers in Tokyo




Worsen teamwork among the staff




Worsen relationship between the manager and teachers




Lower morale of the staff




Unfavourable impact on pedagogy due to teachers aware of being evaluated




Less relaxed and animated atmosphere at school




Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Senior High School Teachers and Staff Union(2005)
Seeking for a more general picture

Now that most of the teachers in Japan have some experiences of being evaluated under the new schemes, we should be able to get a more general picture than has been available. How different will the results turn out to be if we include nonunion member teachers? Are we going to have the same results if we ask teachers in other areas? Teachers in Tokyo have been through the new teacher evaluation since the spring of 2000. Many boards of education have followed the trail of Tokyo. How do head teachers experience the process of teacher evaluation? Clearly, the experiences and perceptions of the evaluator and evaluated constitute each other. In order to deal with these questions and get a more general picture of teachers’ experiences and perceptions of new teacher evaluation, the author carried out a questionnaire survey (see Appendix for the research method and procedures). A part of the results shall be presented below.

As Table 2 shows, when it comes to the perceived effects of new teacher evaluation, difference between head teachers and teachers was remarkable. It can be easily assumed that the evaluator is more positive of the effects of evaluation than the evaluated is. However, as to most of the promised effects, the percentages of positive head teachers were almost twice as high as those of positive teachers. For instance, 76.5% of head teachers were confident of its effectiveness in improving the communication or mutual understanding between the teachers and themselves, while only 35.7% of teachers agreed. Indeed, a majority of teachers (56.1%) disagreed with the effectiveness.
Table 2. The perceived effects of ‘new teacher evaluation’ in Japan: a more general picture

Head teacher


Agree %

Disagree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Improved communication or mutual understanding between head teacher and teachers.





Improved teachers’ understanding of head teacher’s school management policy.





Improved teachers’ understanding of school goals.





Teachers came to think well about work priorities.





Better identified teachers’ needs for professional development.





Improved the teachers' morale on the whole.





Improved quality or standards of the school’s work.





Caused some kinds of attrition in the relationship between head teacher and teachers.





Caused some kinds of attrition in the relationship among teachers.





Note: In this table, figures for ‘don’t know’ are omitted so that the sum of the percentages for ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ doesn’t make 100%.
Compared with the effectiveness of improving communication, understanding of management policy and school goals, and better prioritizing of work, head teachers were less confident of the effects of teacher evaluation on teachers’ morale and quality of the school’s work, although a majority of them were still positive. Meanwhile, nearly 70% of teachers denied the positive effects on their morale and the quality of what they do. Then, compared with the rather hostile responses (of course, this is to a great extent a matter of phrasing of the items) from union member teachers in Tokyo, the more general attitude of teachers, including both union and non-union members, may appear benign, particularly as to the extent to which they perceived the divisiveness or unfavorable effects on relationships. They are, however, far from neutral, definitely sceptical of the acclaimed effects of new teacher evaluation.

Here comparisons with the research findings in the UK should be of interest. Farrell & Morris (2004) reported that 80.6% of teachers were suspicious of the positive effects on motivation of teachers. According to Niell (2001), curriously enough, the same percentage (80.6%) of teachers disagreed with the proposition that the performance review will help improve teachers’ morale and motivation in the school. Moreover,

  • 65.3% disagreed with “The performance management arrangments will help me improve my teaching”.

  • 56.3% disagreed with “The performacne management process will provide me a valuable opportunity to identify my achievmenents, skills and competences”.

The perceptions of teachres in the UK do not seem to be so different as those of teachers in Japan sugggested by the followign percentages, although we should note that the meanings and implications of the questionnaire items are not exactly exchangeable.

  • 69.2% disagreed with “New teacher evaluation improved quality or standards of the school’s work”.

  • 68.2 % disagreed with “New teacher evaluation helped to better identify teachers’ needs for professional development”.

Better articulation of objectives?

Now it is worth noting the more recent research findings in the UK, presented by Marsden and Belfield at the London School of Economics and Political Science (Marsden & Belfield, 2005; Marsden & Belfield, 2006). They had been conducted a panel survey research since just before the introduction of performance management in the autumn of 2000, to find that both head teachers’ and teachers’ perceptions of performance-related pay and performance management had shifted from sceptical, if not hostile, to more affirmative. However, they didn’t attribute this growth in the positive perceptions to the effectiveness of performance-related pay as an economic incentive, but to the improvements in target setting, namely the better articulation between individual teachers’ and school’s goals and consequently in school management (Marsden & Belfield, 2005) .They called it ‘joined-up’ goal setting or ‘integrative bargaining’ approach to performance management in their more recent paper (Marsden & Belfield, 2006). The integrative, as opposed to distributive, bargaining approach focuses on adapting the contents and priorities of work performance on the part of ‘agent’ to changing needs of the ‘principal’, and on the need to advance on the basis of give and take by both parties (Marsden & Belfield, 2006, p. 6).

Marsden & Belfield (2005) drew our attention to the increase of the percentages, over the waves of survey, of teachers as well as head teachers who agreed with the questionnaire items such as ‘targets set more clearly’ and ‘more aware of school’s targets in the School Improvement Plan’. However, as Table 2 showed, a majority of teachers in Japan disagreed with the roughly corresponding questionnaire items. Meanwhile, the questionnaire asked specifically about the way teachers’ annual objectives were decided on, which is of particularly significance from the viewpoint of “joined- up” goal setting or “integrative bargaining.” As Table 3 shows, the great majority of head teachers felt that they instructed the teachers to set objectives in line with their own school management policy (85.6%) and the goals of the school and its subunits (90.2%).
Table 3. The experiences of objective setting

Head teacher


Agree %

Disagree %

Agree %

Disagree %

Head teacher instructed teachers to set ‘concrete and objective’ goals such as measurable ones.





Head teacher instructed teachers to set objectives in line with his/her own school management policy.





Head teacher instructed teachers to set objectives in line with school goals, and objectives of year or subject group.





Head teacher instructed teachers to rewrite objectives.





I consulted colleagues when setting objectives.





Colleagues know each other’s objectives.





Note: In this table, figures for ‘don’t know’ are omitted so that the sum of the percentages for ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ doesn’t make 100%.
There emerge two kinds of discrepancies to be noted. One is a large gap (over 35% points, as shown in Table 3) of the experiences between head teachers and teachers, in relation to the ‘joined-up’ goal setting or ‘integrative bargaining’. The other is a less large but still salient gap (around 20% points) between the perceived increase in understanding of head teacher’s management policy and school goals, and the experiences of being instructed to conform to the policy and goals on the part of teachers (as a result of cross-checking the relevant results in Table 2 and Table 3). Although a majority of teachers were required to pay close attention to the policy and goals, they felt that the experiences did not necessarily lead to better understanding of them. These discrepancies are worth further investigation.

However, given the strikingly positive attitudes of head teachers towards the effects of new teacher evaluation on communication and mutual understanding between the teachers and themselves, and goal settings by the teachers, the survey results may indicate that the “joined-up” goal setting or “integrative bargaining” works in some schools. Marsden & Belfield (2005) considered the concurrence of the perceptions of improved articulation of objectives between head teachers and classroom teachers, which implies that the improvements were actually happening. By this criterion, roughly 15% out of the 146 sample schools could be judged as such schools. Needless to say, only further research of longitudinal nature can show whether this percentage will increase or not.

Teacher evaluation, performativity and social justice

Thus, in a minority of schools both in the UK and Japan, performance management or new teacher evalaution works as a device to promote atticluation of objectives between individual teachers and the school as organisaion. However, the author would dare to add a caveat here. The analysis so far has not adequately addressed the nature of the “joined-up” goal setting or “integrative bargaining”. Broadly speaking, the articulation could mean either agreement based on authentic dialogue or manufactured consent. Teachers may well feel opposed to the school’s goal or head teachers’ management policy on pedagogical principles, particulary when they have been formulated rather authoritatively or patronisingly with paying little attention to teachers’ views. Moreover, school goals and head teacher’s school management policy may well be somehow skewed. For instance, measurable performacne of teaching and learning are likely to be emphasised too much under the strong pressures of market forces and external accountabilty. The following interview extract would show how performativity will encroach on school.

Recently the board of education drove home to every special needs high school the instruction that all students should be trained ready for employment. So, our deputy head teacher wanted to put into the school prospectus, “We aim at 100% success of employment for our students”. I objected to it, because I didn’t think that all of our students are either competent or suited for employment. So I asked the deputy head whoever of the students is in his mind. Then he replied, “I don’t know the actual situation of the students. But the board of education persists [with the thorough training for employment]. Then we should aim to that.”
The harmfull side-effects of performativity and target based education reform have been well doumented in both the UK and US (see, for example, Ball (1998) and Thrupp & Hursh (2006)). In these cases, it is likely that the articluation of individual teachers’ and organisational obejctives would lead to deterioration rather than improvement of quality or standards in education.

The author’s questionnaire included the items asking teachers how they feel the relationships or social conditions at their schools. A regression analysis using the replies as control variable and the perceived effects of teacher evaluation as dependent variables was carried out (see Katsuno (forthcoming) for the details of the analysis). The results showed, quite understandably, that the teachers are more likely to perceive the effects of teacher evaluation on communication with head teacher, understanding of head teacher’s management policy and understanding of school goals, when they feel that their colleagues share the goals as to instruction, and when they feel that their colleagues are always conscious of head teacher’s management policy. However it was also shown that the teachers are less likely to perceive the effects of teacher evaluation on communication with head teacher and understanding of head teacher’s management policy, when they feel that the colleagues give the highest priority to the learning and development of pupils and students. Moreover, the teachers are more likely to perceive the effects of teacher evaluation on understanding of head teacher’s management policy when they feel that their colleagues give the highest priority to raising the measurable academic and physical attainments of pupils and students.

These results seem to suggest that teacher evaluation tend to promote articluation of individual teachers’ and organisational obejctives, when the objectives focus on measurments of teaching and learning, rather than the process of teaching and learning. As Table 3 showed, 76.5% of head teachers believe that that they instructed teachers to set ‘concrete and objective’ goals such as measurable ones and 65.3 % of teachers thought that they were instructed to do so. These percentages were both quite high and their gap was smaller than those as to other ‘experiences of objective setting’ items. Presumably teacher evaluation is introducing and enhancing performativity. Although a minority of head teachers ordered teachers to rewrite their objectives and only 13.4% of teachers answered that they were instructed to do so, the rewritings, if any, were often due to lack of measurability. The following extract of interview with Mr. Takada, a male high school teacher in his twenties, should be a typical example.
Takada: Under this system, we are required to set numerable objectives, specific ones. So, for instance, you have to set an objective like, “I shall have more than 80 students pass the third grade of the Eiken (Test in Practical English Proficiency). I personally feel I have to write down objectives that may be a little away from the nature of education. I see some contradictions.

The author: Did you do much rewriting?

Takada: I hear that our school was a little bit extraordinary. I did rewrite four or five times. My head teacher pointed out specifically how they should be reworked.

The author: At first, what sort of objectives did you set?

Takada: Um, such as ‘I shall have many students interested in English.’ or ‘I shall have students hand in assignments in time.’

The author: Then, what was wrong with the objectives?

Takada: I was told, not specific enough. In the case of having students hand in assignments in time, you must indicate a certain number of students who might fail to do so. And also I was told that ‘many students interested in English’ was still ambiguous.

The author: So you put into the objective a certain number of students who shall like English.

Takada: Yes.
The author conducted interviews with teachers as well as head teachers alongside the questionnaire-based research. From the qualitative data emerges a serious concern that teacher evaluation will aggravate, if not produce, the inequality of power base among staff. Teacher evaluation may work to exploit the teacher with less authority or those in relatively disadvantaged positions. In other words, young rather than experienced teachers, female rather than male teachers, contracted rather than fully employed teachers, auxiliary rather than mainstream staff might be losing out. The following extracts from interview records tell something about issues concerned with equal opportunity or social justice.
I pair up with a young teacher. She sometimes complained to me that she can’t easily be frank with the teachers in senior management. She felt that they were always watching with inquisitive eyes rather than looking after her. They were ready to assess rather than lend a helping hand to her. But she was resigned to that, for she was in her first year of teaching [during which her employment was conditional] any way.
Last year, a dormitory [attached to the special needs school] tutor was rated C. We wondered why she got C. What turned out is that one of her senior colleague told the head teacher that she is quite incompetent. I cannot simply justify that. She is not incompetent, but has a little bit unique point of view. She sometimes does her way. The senior colleague was not happy with that, so conveyed the negative message to the head teacher, who just swallowed it.
One thing to note in the last extract is that teacher evaluation is driving a wedge into the collegial relationship. The goal setting and performance review meetings could provide some teacher with the opportunity to pledge their ‘loyalty’ to management. Moreover, we should note that 78.7% of teachers did not consult colleagues when setting their objectives and 85.2% answered that they don’t know each others’ objectives. The process of teacher evaluation might sacrifice horizontal communication for vertical communication, given the emphasis on strong headship in school management (Central Council on Educaiton, 1998). Deteriorated horizontal communication should have negative impacts on teachers’ work, which is of collective and collaborative nature. However, in order to get a picture fine enough to enable us to deal with the concerns, further research is needed.
Tentative Conclusions: Towards further research

Now it is time to take stock of what came into the picture so far. First, in a majority of schools new teacher evaluation seemed to have failed to exert the acclaimed effects. It turned out that teachers are generally not as hostile as has been suggested by survey results of union member teachers in Tokyo, but still definitely sceptical of the effectiveness of teacher evaluation. In this sense, new teacher evaluation has already been no more than the formalities (see Wragg, Haynes, Wragg, & Chamberlin, 2004 as to the performance management in the UK).

Second, despite the general picture, in a minority of schools new teacher evaluation may prompt ‘joined-up’ goal setting, i.e. individual teachers’ objectives being better articulated with organisational goals and head teacher’s school management policy.

Third, some of the interview data of how new teacher evaluation is actually enacted suggested serious concerns about social justice. New teacher evaluation may exploit, if not produce, the disadvantaged and also enhance the authoritative structure at the cost of horizontal or collegial relationships. This would prove that teacher evaluation is inclined to divisive practice as critics have argued.

However, these conclusions are all tentative and further research, both general and fine pictures of what is happening to the process of teacher evaluation, is needed to explore them more adequately. This is particularly so in relation to the thesis that new teacher evaluation works as a mechanism of government control of teacher performance and competences.

The ongoing research shall look at, among others, whether a perceptual shift from negative to positive towards new teacher evaluation will happen, as was reported by Marsden & Belfield (2005) and Marsden & Belfield (2006) in the UK. The apparent shift might indicate that the teachers have accumulated more experience and confidence in coping with new teacher evaluation and that they see more possibility of using the system for the benefit of themselves, colleagues and students. However, there could be another interpretation. The shift might be largely accounted for by the teachers’ “resigned compliance” (Farrell & Morris, 2004). In the latter case, this might well indicate shifting teachers’ identity as well.

In the UK, much research has been carried out about teachers’ shifting identities under the pressure of performativity policies (for example, Avis, 2005; Perryman, 2006; Woods & Jeffrey, 2002). Both Woods & Jeffrey (2002) and Perryman (2006) explored the impact of performativity, focusing on how teachers experienced OFSTED inspections. Although Perryman did not explicitly talk about the ‘identity work’ of individual teachers, she examined a process of compliance, which may well have involved a serious struggle over teachers’ identity. This theoretical framework considers performativity not simply as technology of control but as culture (Ball, 1998). It enables us to bridge macro analysis of policy formation and micro analysis of what is happening when the policy is enacted. In other words, we will not simply deal with ‘what’ and ‘why’ of power but ‘how’ of power (Townley, 1994, p. 9).

The author’s research owes much to these works, but they seem to share a feature, what I would call ‘work upon’ perspective of performativity. In theoretical terms, the ‘work upon’ perspective could lead to materialization of performativity: performativity comes from elsewhere as mandates and it is the thing which teachers will comply with, adapt to, appropriate or resist. If performativity is seen like this, we will easily get trapped in the structure and agency dualism. However, my assumption is that performativity is being enacted through the social interactions of teachers: not always forced upon them. And also, this ‘work upon’ perspective might reinforce analytical individualism. The teachers, who experienced the dilemmas between self and social identity, could employ varied strategies, including self-assertion and game playing, but rather individualistically. This analytical individualism should be challenged for teachers’ identity work is performed in local politics of the school.

These features may stem from the fact that much of the research has been done at the ‘creative schools’ (especially, in the case of Woods & Jeffrey, 2002). It seems that the teachers shared what is called Plowden Self-Identity. In this sense, the teachers’ social relations are monolithic in value and orientation. There leaves less room for micro politics (Ball, 1988; Blase & Anderson, 1995) come in. This kind of strong value sharing among teachers can’t be generalised. Although it sounds contradictory to the analytical individualism, the ‘work upon’ perspective of performativity is based on an assumption of ‘ontological’ collectivism. A consensual model of school organization would allow performativity to be materialised.

In examining what is happening to the process of teacher evaluation in Japan, we should be more conscious of ‘work through’ perspective of performativity rather than ‘work upon’ perspective. This is a theoretical and analytical framework with more explicit focus on the micro politics of school organization. The ‘work through’ perspective of performativity is related to a different assumption concerned with the nature of school organization. As has been suggested in the present paper, the perceptional, and presumably value, gap between teachers based on classroom and management is remarkable. As Barbara Townley put it, we can observe ‘personalized application of power’ (Townley, 1989, p. 105) in the process of teacher evaluation. Further, the process surely affects the social relations and interactions of teachers, in which their ‘identity work’ is enacted. Hence, the need for the modified analytical framework for exploring how performativity works in general, and particularly the thesis that teacher evaluation works as a mechanism of government control of teacher performance, competences and presumably even identity.


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Appendix: method and procedures of the questionnaire survey

Over the period from February to April 2008, the author carried out a questionnaire survey to investigate the views of teachers on pay reform, ‘new teacher evaluation’ and the organisational conditions of the schools. For the first instance, questionnaires were sent to 3787 head teachers, of both primary and secondary schools but exclusive of private schools, across the country. For that purpose, the author had selected every 10th school, by the school type, off the School Registry. The head teachers were asked if they would take the trouble of distributing questionnaires to teachers in their schools, besides filling in their own questionnaires. 1368 returns from the head teachers were received, with the return rate being 36%. Out of the 1368, 146 head teachers agreed to cooperate further. Then, packages of questionnaires were sent to the cooperating schools, each package including enough copies for all the teachers to receive one. The questionnaires for head teachers and teachers were mostly identical so that cross-checks could be made, although they had a small number of particularly prepared items. In the end, 664 returns were collected from the teachers, which meant that on average 4.5 teachers from a cooperating school took part in the present research. Calculating the return rate for teachers is irrelevant because we are not sure that all the teachers in the cooperating schools actually received the questionnaire.

In this paper, only returns from the cooperating schools are analysed, which means that the sample consists of 146 head teachers and 664 teachers. The reason for this decision is that it would make the comparisons of reply between head teachers and teachers more plausible, although the returns from the larger sample of 1368 head teachers are statistically not so different from those to be analysed here.

1 Paper to be delivered at British Educational Research Association Conference 2008, 3rd to 6th September, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

2 Associate Professor, Department of School Improvement and Policy Studies, Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo. Email Address:


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