Found in 6 comments
MarkMc · 2018-09-09 · Original thread
There seems to be a strong divide on whether excellent teaching can make a significant difference to poor kids. Typically this mirrors the left-right political divide.

To quote from the article:

"While teacher effectiveness may be the most salient in-school factor contributing to student academic outcomes, it contributes a relatively small slice — no more than 14 percent, according to a recent RAND Corporation analysis of teacher effectiveness — to the overall picture. A far bigger wedge is influenced by out-of-school variables over which teachers have little control: family educational background, the effects of poverty or segregation on children, exposure to stress from gun violence or abuse and how often students change schools, owing to homelessness or other upheavals."

"Teaching does matter, and it can improve. But there is little evidence — at least to date — that it can counter the effects on children of attending neighborhood schools that remain racially and economically isolated."

I find this attitude difficult to reconcile with other things I've read about teaching poor and minority kids. For example, here is a summary of a few studies as reported in Teaching as Leadership [1]:

"The schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student background" [2]

"Having a top-quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row would be enough to close the black-white test score gap" [3]

"Differences in this magnitude -- 50 percentile points in just three years -- are stunning. For an individual child, it means the difference between a 'remedial' label and placement in the accelerated or even gifted track. And the difference between entry into a selective college and a lifetime of low-paying, menial work" [4]

Many charter schools use a lottery to determine which students are enrolled, and many studies have taken advantage of such 'natural experiments'. This paper [5] represents a good overview of such studies. It seems that some charter schools can have significant effects on learning. In a Boston study, "Abdulkadiroglu et al. (2011)...find very large average effects: charter school attendance increases state-level English/language arts and math performance test scores by 0.2 and 0.35 standard deviations per year respectively. Given that that the achievement gap between black and white students in Massachusetts is about 0.7 to 0.8 standard deviations, these estimates suggest that three years of charter school attendance for blacks would eliminate the black-white performance gap."

However, the same paper also says that at KIPP charter schools, "School hours are extended typically to between 7:30AM and 5:00PM and include occasional Saturdays and summer weeks, and tutoring is also offered during these times." so I wonder to what degree the 'value added' by top charter schools comes simply from teaching more.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-As-Leadership-Effective-Achi...

[2] Marzano, R. J. What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 2003, p. 7

[3] Kane, T., Gordon, R. and Staiger, D. Identifying Effective Teachers Useing Performance on the Job Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2004, p. 8

[4] Peske, H. and Haycock, K. Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Short-Changed on Teacher Quality: A Report and Recommendations by the Education Trust. Washington, D.C.: Education Trust, 2006, p. 11

[5] http://www.umass.edu/preferen/You%20Must%20Read%20This/JEPCh...

MarkMc · 2018-09-09 · Original thread
Doug Lemov's book "Teach Like a Champion" is great: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118901851/ref=dbs_a_def_r...

I'd also recommend "Teaching as Leadership": https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-As-Leadership-Effective-Achi...

MarkMc · 2016-07-24 · Original thread
From the article: "it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation"

There seems to be a common strain of thought that says we cannot close the achievement gap unless we tackle poverty. Yet there is considerable evidence to support the opposite view. Here is a summary of a few studies as reported in Teaching as Leadership [1]:

"The schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student background" [2]

"Having a top-quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row would be enough to close the black-white test score gap" [3]

"Differences in this magnitude -- 50 percentile points in just three years -- are stunning. For an individual child, it means the difference between a 'remedial' label and placement in the accelerated or even gifted track. And the difference between entry into a selective college and a lifetime of low-paying, menial work". [4]

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-As-Leadership-Effective-Achie...

[2] Marzano, R. J. What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 2003, p. 7

[3] Kane, T., Gordon, R. and Staiger, D. Identifying Effective Teachers Useing Performance on the Job Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2004, p. 8

[4] Peske, H. and Haycock, K. Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Short-Changed on Teacher Quality: A Report and Recommendations by the Education Trust. Washington, D.C.: Education Trust, 2006, p. 11

MarkMc · 2015-01-09 · Original thread
> The overall environment matters more than the teacher.

You seem to be suggesting that the quality of the teacher can play only a minor role in the educational outcome for disadvantaged students. Yet there is considerable evidence to support the opposite view. Here is a summary of a few studies as reported in Teaching as Leadership [1]:

"The schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student background" [2]

"Having a top-quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row would be enough to close the black-white test score gap" [3]

"Differences in this magnitude -- 50 percentile points in just three years -- are stunning. For an individual child, it means the difference between a 'remedial' label and placement in the accelerated or even gifted track. And the difference between entry into a selective college and a lifetime of low-paying, menial work". [4]

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-As-Leadership-Effective-Achie...

[2] Marzano, R. J. What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action. Alexandria, Va.: ASCD, 2003, p. 7

[3] Kane, T., Gordon, R. and Staiger, D. Identifying Effective Teachers Useing Performance on the Job Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2004, p. 8

[4] Peske, H. and Haycock, K. Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Short-Changed on Teacher Quality: A Report and Recommendations by the Education Trust. Washington, D.C.: Education Trust, 2006, p. 11

MarkMc · 2014-12-14 · Original thread
This article reminds me of Bill Gate's emphasis on measuring outcomes - here's a quote from the Gates Foundation 2013 letter [1]:

-------------- Begin Gates Quote ---------------

Over the holidays I read The Most Powerful Idea in the World, a brilliant chronicle by William Rosen of the many innovations it took to harness steam power. Among the most important were a new way to measure the energy output of engines and a micrometer dubbed the "Lord Chancellor," able to gauge tiny distances.

Such measuring tools, Rosen writes, allowed inventors to see if their incremental design changes led to the improvements-higher-quality parts, better performance, and less coal consumption-needed to build better engines. Innovations in steam power demonstrate a larger lesson: Without feedback from precise measurement, Rosen writes, invention is "doomed to be rare and erratic." With it, invention becomes "commonplace."

Starting around 1805, the “Lord Chancellor” micrometer, according to author William Rosen, was “an Excalibur of measurement, slaying the dragon of imprecision,” for inventors in the Industrial Revolution. (© Science Museum, London) Of course, the work of our foundation is a world away from the making of steam engines. But in the past year I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve amazing progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal-in a feedback loop similar to the one Rosen describes. This may seem pretty basic, but it is amazing to me how often it is not done and how hard it is to get right.

-------------- End Gates Quote ---------------

Nobody questions the need for measurement in engineering, but when Mr Gates tried to apply the same logic to measuring teacher effectiveness [2] he received a lot of pushback from people who say his method is flawed [3,4] or simply that teaching effectiveness cannot be reliably measured.

This is a controversial topic. Here is an interesting take on this subject from a book called Teaching as Leadership [5]:

-------------- Begin Teaching as Leadership Quote -----------

As we see modeled by these teachers, the less tangible nature of such longer term dispositions, mindsets, and skills does not mean they cannot be tracked and, in some sense, measured. In fact, if these ideas are going to be infused into a big goal, you must have a way to know that you are making progress toward them.

Mekia Love, a nationally recognized reading teacher in Washington, D.C., sets individualized, quantifiable literacy goals for each of her students but also frames them in her broader vision of "creating lifelong readers." This is a trait she believes is a key to her students opportunities and fulfillment in life. In order for both Ms. Love and her students to track their progress toward creating lifelong readers, Ms. Love developed a system of specific and objective indicators (like students self-driven requests for books, students' own explanations of their interest in reading, the time students are engaged with a book.) By setting specific quantifiable targets for and monitoring each of those indicators, she was able to demonstrate progress and success on what would otherwise be a subjective notion.

Strong teachers -- because they know that transparency and tracking progress add focus and urgency to their and their students efforts -- find a way to make aims like self-esteem, writing skills, "love of reading," or "access to high-performing high schools" specific and objective. These teachers -- like Ms. Love, Mr. Delhagen, and Ms. Jones -- ask themselves what concrete indicators of resilience or independence or "love of learning" they want to see in their students by the end of the year and work them into their big goals.

In our experience, less effective teachers may sometimes assume that because a measurement system may be imperfect or difficult, then it must be wrong or impossible. As Jim Collins reminds us in his studies of effective for profit and nonprofit organizations:

"To throw our hands up and say, But we cannot measure performance in the social sectors the way you can in a business is simply lack of discipline. All indicators are flawed, whether qualitative or quantitative. Test scores are flawed, mammograms are flawed, crime data are flawed, customer service data are flawed, patient outcome data are flawed. What matters is not finding the perfect indicator, but settling upon a consistent and intelligent method of assessing your output results, and then tracking your trajectory with rigor."

-------------- End Teaching as Leadership Quote -----------

Lastly, on a personal note I have found that I simply cannot lose weight unless I keep track of the number of calories I eat. There is something about seeing that number that has a strong influence over my behaviour.

-------------- References --------------

[1] http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/Resources-and-Medi...

[2] http://www.metproject.org/

[3] http://jaypgreene.com/2013/01/09/understanding-the-gates-fou...

[4] http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2013/01/09/the-50-milli...

[5] http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-As-Leadership-Effective-Achie...

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