Teacher Selection and Interview Portfolios
The major research questions for this study were: (a) What forms do teacher interview portfolios take? (b) What meaning do school principals make of these portfolios? (c) How, if at all, are teacher portfolios being used by principals in deciding whom to hire?
This was a case study using qualitative research procedures. The study was situated in the hiring policies and practices of Central City School District from 1995 to 1999. Semi-structured interviews of 18 k-12 principals and 4 key informants were primary means of data gathering. Document analyses supplemented interview data.
Interview portfolios typically consisted of lesson plans; photographs of projects, activities, and teacher-student interactions; and supporting examples of classroom practice. Statements of educational philosophy, credentials, letters of reference, transcripts, and other background information were also included.
Most principals viewed portfolios as a way for candidates to express their educational beliefs, illustrate skills and methods, and supplement the interview with examples from applicants' experience. Principals expressed a desire for more evidence of having used the portfolio development process as a means of reflection and introspection.
Overall, interview portfolios were not key contributors to principals' hiring decisions. The reasons for this varied. Some principals mentioned time constraints during interviews. Others expressed skepticism that portfolios provided meaningful evidence of candidates' teaching ability and people skills.
Propositions and implications for future research center on portfolio format and assessment criteria, authenticity and self-knowledge, selection interview procedures, teacher preparation, teacher recruitment and hiring, and information management in Central City School District. Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of the portfolio process lies in the development of a new norm for the profession: placing discussion and debate about what constitutes "good teaching" into a public forum.