After three years, $45 million, and a staggering amount of video content, the Gates Foundation has released the third and final set of reports on its ambitious Measurements in Effective Teaching (MET) project (the first two iterations are reviewed here and here). The project attempted to ascertain whether it’s possible to measure educator effectiveness reliably—and, if so, how to do it. According to the project’s top-notch army of researchers (led by Tom Kane), it ain’t easy but it can be done and done well.
First, the research team used predictive data from the 2009–10 school year to randomly assign about 800 teachers in grades four through eight to classrooms (within their original schools) for 2010–11. The data showed a strong correlation between the predicted achievement of teachers’ students and their actual scores, as well as the magnitude of success. That the study randomly assigned teachers offers credence to the researchers’ contention that teachers’ success can be determined (and isn’t merely a byproduct of the quality of students who enter their classrooms in September). Second, they conducted a series of weightings to determine the ideal mix of past student-achievement data (value-added metrics, or VAM), classroom observations, and student surveys to identify the most effective teachers. Ultimately, the authors determined that a model that relies on VAM for between 33 and 50 percent of total teacher evaluation is best, with student surveys comprising 25 percent and classroom observations the
The NYT turns in a piece about TFA, recruiting, and today’s underwhelming job market. This quote from a recent recruit will certainly stir the passions: “It wasn’t until I was desperate that I said ‘I’ll check this out.’” My Bellwether colleague Andy Eduwonk weighs in thoughtfully here. The bigger question, I think, is this: Given the great need for drastic change in our urban school systems, are TFA and the other ed-reform human-capital providers sustaining or disrupting the establishment?
I argue in the Urban School System of the Future that we need to replace big-city districts because they will never produce the results we need. This tragic piece about the mess in Detroit gives another reason for replacement: Many of these districts (possibly including Philadelphia) are on the brink of dissolution due to financial and other pressures. We need to have a Plan B should these systems break down; better yet, we should carefully choreograph their exit so we get ahead of these impending crashes.
MOOCs are all the rage now in higher education (check out this WJS piece). They seem to have countless benefits. The problem is that the technology has gotten far ahead of policy and practice. These upsides and downsides are coming to K–12. Get up to speed with this great column by Checker Finn.
Zuckerberg will give away $500 million to Newark schools.
Photo by deneyterrio via photopin cc.
After a massive donation to district schools of Newark, NJ, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is planning to give away $500 million to education and health, with details TBD. I’d love to see Mr. Zuckerberg invest in the urban school system of the future instead of jamming more money into broken urban districts. My intellectual doppelganger, Neerav Kingsland, feels the same way.
The ladies of Politics K-12 always know what to write about. This piece about RTTT-D scoring by Michele McNeil is a great example. It has all of the pertinent information that a casual RTTT-D follower could want and valuable insights for those closer to the competition. It’s a must-read for people interested in federal education policymaking and implementation—and for anyone trying to learn how to blog.
Add Indianapolis to the list of cities doing chartering right: Stanford’s CREDO found that not only are its charters improving student performance at a faster clip, they are serving a similar student demographic. Indy joins the ranks of NYC, New Orleans, and Newark as cities showing how a charter sector can significantly outperform the failed
In December 2010, the latest results from PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) revealed that—compared to our OECD peers—American fifteen-year olds are (at best) in the middle of the pack. Among the thirty-four participating nations, we ranked fourteenth in reading, seventeenth in science, and twenty-fifth in math. This news, coupled with Shanghai’s epic success on the exam (the first time any part of mainland China had taken it), rocked the education-policy community. For those still smarting, the latest results from two other international assessments offer some liniment. TIMSS and PIRLS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) are given in more countries—including many that are poorer and less developed than those in the OECD—and are actual appraisals of student learning at two grade levels. (PISA purports to assess skills in a country’s overall fifteen-year-old population and does not claim to be curriculum-based or school-aligned.)
U.S. fourth graders are definitely looking better. From 2006 to 2011, their math performance on TIMSS bumped up twelve points and now trails that of their counterparts in just seven other lands (in East Asia and Northern Ireland). Even more remarkable results come from PIRLS: Of the fifty-three systems participating, only four from abroad bested the U.S.’s score (Hong Kong, Russia, Finland, and Singapore). Further, Singapore is the only foreign system to surpass us at the “advanced” level, where an impressive 17 percent of American fourth graders can be found.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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