Learning about Teaching: Initial Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project

In the fall of 2009, the Gates
Foundation commenced an epic task: the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET)
project. Through thousands of hours of videotaped and live classroom
observations, student and teacher surveys, and information on student
achievement gains, foundation analysts labored to uncover the best indicators
of teacher effectiveness, the goal being to craft systemic and reliable
evaluation processes and feedback mechanisms for the future. The preliminary
findings of this massive initiative are now available. And if they’re a sign
what’s to come, teacher evaluations will be in for a major makeover. This
preliminary report analyzes two of the project’s five measures of teacher
effectiveness—student scores (on both state and external tests) and student
survey responses. There were four take-aways: First, a teacher’s past success
in producing student gains is highly predictive of that teacher’s ability to do
so again. Second, teachers who, according to their students, “teach to the
test” do not produce the highest value-added scores for said students; rather,
instructors who help their students understand math concepts and reading
comprehension yield the highest scores. Third, student perceptions of their
teachers are remarkably telling and remain stable across groups of students and
across classes taught by the same teacher. Most reflective of teacher
effectiveness is students’ perceptions of whether their teacher controls the
classroom and challenges them with rigorous work. The analysts end by noting
that a combination of these methods provides teachers a more accurate,
detailed, and targeted evaluation. These findings are just the beginning of
MET. Check back in late spring for the final report—including analyses of
classroom observations.

Learning
about Teaching: Initial Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching
Project

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
December 2010

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