Teachers

This study of Teach For America (TFA) and Teaching Fellows secondary math teachers explores how their students compare to peers taking the same course, in the same school, from teachers who entered the profession through traditional certification programs (or other programs not as rigorous as TFA or Teaching Fellows). Conducted by Mathematica and the federal Institute of Education Sciences, the report is the first look at this question using random assignment, the gold standard for empirical research: Students in each participating school, 9,000 overall taught by 300 secondary math teachers, were randomly assigned to their instructors. The upshot? First, students who had TFA teachers performed better on end-of-year assessments than students in the comparison classrooms, scoring an average of 0.07 standard deviations higher, which is equivalent to 2.6 additional months of school or moving from the 27th to 36th percentile. Second, students who had Teaching Fellows teachers did not do any better or worse than students in comparison classrooms. However, students of novice Teaching Fellows did better than those instructed by novice comparison teachers. To be sure, these findings are not necessarily reflective of the programs alone. They also reflect differences in the people who choose to enter them. Finally, a bit on the characteristics of these teachers: Both TFA and Teaching Fellows have less experience than their peers, are less likely to be minorities, more likely to have graduated from more selective colleges, less likely to be math majors but more likely to score higher on tests of math...

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Challenge their children or watch them depart

What high-quality digital learning looks—er, sounds—like

Always a bridesmaid edition

Mike and Michelle join the WaPo in decrying the DOJ’s anti-voucher antics and debate who’s worse: private school parents or those who settle for failing schools. With Amber off saying “I do,” Dara takes over the research minute with a tale of unfair teacher-pension policies.

Amber's Research Minute

Better Pay, Fairer Pensions: Reforming Teacher Compensation by Josh McGee and Marcus A. Winters, Center for State and Local Leadership, Civic Report No. 79 (New York, NY: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, September 2013).

Someday, when they write the history of the education-reform movement, future scholars will tug their chins in puzzlement as they ponder today’s obsession with high-stakes teacher evaluations. But not for all the usual reasons that people raise concerns: the worry about whether we’ve got good measures of teacher performance, especially for instructors in subjects other than reading and math; the likelihood that tying achievement to evaluations will spur teaching to the test in ways that warp instruction and curriculum; the futility of trying to “principal-proof” our schools by forcing formulaic, one-size-fits-all evaluation models upon all K–12 campuses; the terrible timing of introducing new evaluation systems at the same time that educators are working to implement the Common Core.

No, future historians are far likelier to wonder about the motivation behind the evaluation obsession. Was this a policy designed to identify, and remove, America’s least effective teachers? Or was it a kinder-and-gentler effort to provide critical feedback to instructors so they could improve their craft?

If the latter, as some reformers now claim, historians will wonder why we were so insistent on attaching high stakes to these evaluations—determined to “make human-resource decisions” based on the results, as the parlance goes.

And if the former, historians will ask: What the heck were they thinking? Did they really believe that teacher evaluations alone would be enough to push bad instructors out of the classroom?

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Consider, for instance, the Obama Administration’s decision to place three states on “high risk status” because...

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Reform School: Tim Kitts

Reform School: Tim Kitts

Tim Kitts of Florida's Bay Haven Charter Academy explains his "plus" model of school improvement, and the axes of curriculum and department structures.

Terry Ryan on Collective Bargaining in Ohio

Terry Ryan on Collective Bargaining in Ohio

Terry Ryan talks about his testimony on Senate Bill 5 and what it means for Ohio.

Assuring Highly Effective Teachers for All Ohio Students

Assuring Highly Effective Teachers for All Ohio Students

A teacher's effectiveness has a tremendous impact on a child's learning and academic trajectory. Ohio has debated for many months about how best to strengthen the quality of its teaching force. The biennial budget adopted in June calls for the state to develop a model teacher evaluation framework by the end of 2011 and to adopt policies tying teacher evaluations to key personnel decisions such as compensation, placement, tenure, and dismissal. Likewise, school districts and charter schools must implement their own local evaluations, based on the state model, starting in 2013-14.

It's evident that Ohio schools are about to undergo a major shift when it comes to how teachers are evaluated and developed, a change with great potential to impact student achievement. For this reason, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, along with the Nord Family Foundation and Ohio Grantmakers Forum, are convening this public discussion (and another one in Lorain) on assuring highly effective teachers for students across the state.

Featured speakers include:

Mike Miles, superintendent of Harrison School District 2 in Colorado, a school system on the cutting edge of teacher compensation reform, will review the teacher-effectiveness work his district is doing and the results they're seeing. Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, will discuss the state of teacher effectiveness nationally and what can be learned from research about teacher quality. Eric Gordon, new superintendent of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, will provide an Ohio voice on the panel. Gordon was one of the major architects of CMSD's Academic Transformation plan, which garnered national recognition for its approach to school reform.

Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, moderated the discussion.

Reform School: Tony Bennett

Reform School: Tony Bennett

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“No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources.” This is carved into a...

British author and director of research at the Centre for Market Reform of Education, Gabriel...

The cheesehead edition

Is it all just politics in the Badger State? Have you ever heard of the Common Core? Mike and Brickman talk dairy, while Amber hashes out the latest Education Next survey results.

Amber's Research Minute

The 2013 Education Next Survey by Michael Henderson and Paul E. Peterson, (Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG))

When Fordham’s expert review team issued its mostly-critical review of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in June, we made these commitments:

We will undertake in the near future to provide individual states with some additional information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their current science standards in relation to those of NGSS. (We will also review the recently released Appendix L of NGSS, which maps the alignment between these standards and Common Core math.)

Today we kept both promises by issuing a pair of additional analyses related to NGSS.

Today we kept both promises by issuing a pair of additional analyses related to NGSS.

The first report consists of short-form, side-by-side, comparisons of NGSS and the current science standards of 38 states—those that our reviewers deemed "clearly inferior" or "too close to call" vis-à-vis NGSS. We also compare them to the standards of three jurisdictions—D.C., Massachusetts, and South Carolina—whose science standards earned exceptionally high marks from our reviewers.

These concise comparisons may prove useful to educators and policymakers in states pondering whether to replace their current science standards with NGSS. Several have already done so. Others are deciding.

Our advice is straightforward: U.S. science education needs an overhaul, no question about it, and that needs to include much stronger K–12 standards for this key subject than most states have been using. (Of course, it needs effective implementation of standards even more than it needs standards; as with the Common Core for English and math, it’s folly to...

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By the Company it Keeps: Tim Daly

Emily Barton is Assistant Commissioner for Curriculum and Instruction at the Tennessee Department of Education, and she may be leading, alongside State Chief Keivn Huffman, the most intensive and impressive state-level Common Core implementation plan in the nation. As you’ll read below, the thoughtfulness and scope of this undertaking are remarkable.

Emily Barton Tennessee

As is Emily.

A former classroom teacher and executive with Teach for America, she has accomplished one big professional thing after another with humility and grace. And she’s done it all so early in her career that she’d provoke crazy envy were she not so darned nice.

Her colleagues speak glowingly of her, not just because she’s talented and friendly. Emily is so genuinely committed to the cause of improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged kids that she’s passionate, energetic, creative, and doggedly determined. Even if you fall on the opposite side of an issue, you can’t help but disagree agreeably with Emily—you know she’s honestly fighting firmly for her vision of the best interests of boys and girls.

If I were starting an organization, struggling with a knotty challenge, or besieged in a trench, I’d want Emily Barton around. Education reform is stronger because it keeps her company.

Ladies and gentlemen, Emily Barton.

Can you describe what Common Core implementation in...

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