Thursday, March 01, 2012

Why it’s no surprise high- and low-rated teachers are all around

This from GothamSchools:

The New York Times’ first big story on the Teacher Data Reports released last week contained what sounded like great news: After years of studies suggesting that the strongest teachers were clustered at the most affluent schools, top-rated teachers now seemed as likely to work on the Upper East Side as in the South Bronx.

Teachers with high scores on the city’s rating system could be found “in the poorest corners of the Bronx, like Tremont and Soundview, and in middle-class neighborhoods,” “in wealthy swaths of Manhattan, but also in immigrant enclaves,” and “in similar proportions in successful and struggling schools,” the Times reported.
Education analyst Michael Petrilli called the findings “jaw-dropping news” that “upends everything we thought we knew about teacher quality.”

Except it’s not really news at all. Value-added measurements like the ones used to generate the city’s Teacher Data Reports are designed precisely to control for differences in neighborhood, student makeup, and students’ past performance.

The adjustments mean that teachers are effectively ranked relative to other teachers of similar students. Teachers who teach similar students, then, are guaranteed to have a full range of scores, from high to low. And, unsurprisingly, teachers in the same school or neighborhood often teach similar students.
“I chuckled when I saw the first [Times story], since the headline pretty much has to be true: Effective and ineffective teachers will be found in all types of schools, given the way these measures are constructed,” said Sean Corcoran, a New York University economist who has studied the city’s Teacher Data Reports....


Anonymous said...

I can appreciate the instrument calibration for student population differences. The question is how does that jive when regardless of who your students are, everyone is expected to get them all to the same point?

I have no idea why this information would cause suprise to anyone. Though we like to think teaching is somehow different because of the children and the responsibilies, but people are people. There are great individuals and lousy individuals in every profession who continue to function in those chosen careers. Weathermen with vast technology resources who can't predict snow, waiters that screw up your order, researchers who misinterpret data. Just today I took my child to the doctor and after three tests and an hour and a half in the office, the doctor told me he didn't know what was wrong with my kid! Why should we be suprised that the profession of education would be any different in terms of the presence of mediocrity or even incompetence?

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in teacher evaluations your might be interested in reading the the Bill and Melinda Gates funded Measures of Effective Teaching Student summary. Usually referred to as the METS study. The study compares and contrasts 4 different teacher evaluation tools. The TN teacher evaluation tool uses some aspects of the tools researched in the METS study. Expect to see multiple aspects highlighted in METS emerging in the Professional Growth and Evaluation System being developed in KY for implementation in SY 2014-2015.