Tag Archives: Do teachers really come from the ‘bottom third’ of college graduates?

New teachers have higher SAT scores than in past years

20 Nov

Moi wrote in Is it true that the dumbest become teachers?

There is a quote attributed to H.L. Mencken:
Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach.

People often assume that if a person could do anything else, they probably wouldn’t teach. Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C. has an interesting article in the Washington Post.

In Do teachers really come from the ‘bottom third’ of college graduates? Di Carlo writes:

The conventional wisdom among many education commentators is that U.S. public school teachers “come from the bottom third” of their classes. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took this talking point a step further, and asserted at a press conference last week that teachers are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of graduates.
All of this is supposed to imply that the U.S. has a serious problem with the “quality” of applicants to the profession.
Despite the ubiquity of the “bottom third” and similar arguments (which are sometimes phrased as massive generalizations, with no reference to actual proportions), it’s unclear how many of those who offer them know what specifically they refer to (e.g., GPA, SAT/ACT, college rank, etc.). This is especially important since so many of these measurable characteristics are not associated with future test-based effectiveness in the classroom, while those that are are only modestly so.
Still, given how often it is used, as well as the fact that it is always useful to understand and examine the characteristics of the teacher labor supply, it’s worth taking a quick look at where the “bottom third” claim comes from and what it might or might not mean.
Most people who put forth this assertion cite one of two sources, both from the McKinsey & Company consulting organization. The first is an influential 2007 report , which simply notes that “we are now recruiting our teachers from the bottom third of high school students going to college.” The authors fail to specify how “bottom third” is defined, or whether their data refer to graduates who planned to teach versus those who actually got a job (the latter method is, of course, far preferable).
The citation for this claim is a 2007 report from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which was issued by the National Center on Education and Economy (NCEE). The full report is not freely available online, but it turns out (thanks to the work of California teacher Larry Ferlazzo) that its source is the National Center for Education Statistics’ annual “Condition of Education” (CoE) report (2002 edition).
There don’t seem to be any breakdowns in the cited report that permit one to examine precisely how many teachers come from the “bottom third,” but the CoE does include a few tables on the SAT/ACT scores of teachers who received a bachelor’s degree in 1992-93 and had actually taught by the time 1997 rolled around (and for whom such data were available).
Tne table lists directly the percent of teachers who scored in the top half – 40.9 percent. Using figures in a different table to very roughly ballpark the proportion of 1992-93 graduates-turned-teachers in the bottom quartile (lowest 25 percent), it would be a little under 30 percent.*
Overall, then, 1992-93 graduates who chose teaching were somewhat overrepresented in the bottom of the distribution, and underrepresented in the top. The blanket characterization of these results by McKinsey (via NCEE) – that we are “recruiting our teachers from the bottom third” – seems more than a little misleading.
The second standard source for the “bottom third” claims is more clear and well-documented. It is a subsequent McKinsey report (2010), one which doesn’t rely on questionable interpretations from indirect sources, but rather its own analysis. That report claims, “The U.S. attracts most of its teachers from the bottom two-thirds of college classes, with nearly half coming from the bottom third.”
According to a footnote, these data are “derived from the U.S. Department of Education, NCES, 2001 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Survey.” The appendix to the report confirms that the “top-“ and “bottom” third figures are also based on SAT/ACT scores, specifically those of 1999 graduates whose first job (at least by 2001) was teaching. The breakdown for these graduates is as follows: 23 percent came from the “top third;” 47 percent from the “bottom third;” and 29 percent from the “middle third.” This presents a somewhat more negative picture than the CoE data discussed above.
Why the differences? Because these studies are looking at different groups of teachers. In the CoE data, it’s 1993 graduates who had taught by 1997 (four years later), while the data used in the second McKinsey include 1999 graduates who, in 2001 (two years later), said their first job was (or is) teaching. In other words, each set of results is based on two different cohorts of college graduates, who are also identified in different ways, at different points after graduation….
Neither sample is necessarily representative of the teacher workforce as a whole, or of prior and subsequent cohorts.
Overall, then, the blanket assertion that teachers are coming from the “bottom third” of graduates is, at best, an incomplete picture. It’s certainly true that, when the terciles are defined in terms of SAT/ACT scores, there is consistent evidence that new teachers are disproportionately represented in this group (see here and here for examples from the academic literature).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-college-graduates/2011/12/07/gIQAg8HPdO_blog.html

There isn’t really a definitive answer.

Joy Resmovits reported at Huffington Post about two studies which indicated the quality of new teachers may be improving.

In Starting Teacher SAT Scores Rise As Educators Face Tougher Evaluations, Resmovits reported:

American teachers may be getting smarter.
Still, scrutiny of their work and cries to overhaul the education system intensify.
The education reform group National Council on Teacher Quality, and Harvard University’s Education Next journal on Wednesday each released a paper about the state of the teaching force. The paper by National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank that has long advocated for rigorous teacher evaluations, provides an overall look at how states are evaluating teachers and using the results. The Education Next paper, authored by the University of Washington’s Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch, investigated the academic qualifications of new teachers and found that average SAT scores have increased significantly over the last decade.
Taken together, the articles show an evolving workforce that raises questions about the often extreme hand-wringing over teacher quality. “Although teachers in the U.S. are more likely to be drawn from the lower end of the academic achievement distribution than are teachers in selected high-performing countries, the picture is a bit more nuanced than the rhetoric suggests,” Goldhaber and Walch wrote.
Advocates who have supported the evaluations highlighted by National Council on Teacher Quality continue pushing states to take them further — higher SAT scores or otherwise. “The SAT data is an encouraging sign, and we should keep heading in that direction, as it seems to be an indicator of whether a teacher can actually produce gains,” said Eric Lerum, a vice president at StudentsFirst, the Sacramento-based lobbying and advocacy group started by former Washington schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. “But it doesn’t tell us enough — Goldhaber says it’s not conclusive enough that the trend is reversing — and we’re still not taking enough top-shelf talent and getting them into teaching. We need to use the data we do have and take a comprehensive approach toward improving teacher quality….”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/teacher-sat-scores_n_4175593.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch analyzed teacher quality in an article at Education Next.

Goldhaber and Walch wrote in Gains in Teacher Quality:

Conclusions
In summary, although teachers in the U.S. are more likely to be drawn from the lower end of the academic achievement distribution than are teachers in selected high-performing countries, the picture is a bit more nuanced than the rhetoric suggests, and as we illustrate, it has in fact changed over time in an encouraging direction. There was an upward shift in achievement for 2008 college graduates entering the teacher workforce the following school year. In fact, 2008 graduates both with and without STEM majors who entered the teacher workforce had higher average SAT scores than their peers who entered other occupations.
What explains the apparent rise in academic competency among new teachers? As we show, the SAT scores of those seeking and finding employment in a teaching job differ in different years. It is possible that alternative pathways into the teaching profession have become an important source of academic talent for the profession. Unfortunately, we cannot explore this issue in any depth because the way in which teachers were asked about their preparation has varied over time. Regardless, alternative routes are unlikely to be the primary explanation for the changing SAT trends given that, with a few high-profile exceptions like Teach for America, alternative certification programs are not highly selective.
Differences in the labor market context across years may help explain the rise in SAT scores. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployment rate in 2009 was about 9 percent to about 6 and 5 percent in 1994 and 2001, respectively. The high unemployment rate in 2009 may have led more high-scoring graduates to choose to pursue comparatively stable and secure teaching jobs rather than occupations that were viewed as riskier in the economic downturn. By contrast, those graduating in 2000 were entering the labor market during the tech boom, when there was a good deal of competition for the labor of prospective teachers. Regardless of the reason for the changes in academic proficiency that we observe, however, the data are encouraging and may represent the reversal of the long-term trend of declining academic talent entering teaching….
http://educationnext.org/gains-in-teacher-quality/

Kids know good teaching when they see it. Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP wrotein the Seattle Times article, How Do You Find An Effective Teacher? Ask A Kid:

Adults may be a little surprised by some of the preliminary findings of new research on what makes a great teacher.
How do you find the most effective teachers? Ask your kids. That’s one of four main conclusions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its research partners after the first year of its Measures of Effective Teaching Project.
Preliminary results of the study were posted online Friday; a more complete report is expected in April, according to the foundation….
The first four conclusions of the study are as follows:
-The average student knows effective teaching when he or she experiences it.
-In every grade and every subject, a teacher’s past success in raising student achievement on state tests is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do so again.
-The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests, which show improvement by individual students during the time they were in their classroom, are also the teachers who do the best job helping their students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.
-Valid feedback does not need to come from test scores alone. Other data can give teachers the information they need to improve, including student opinions of how organized and effective a teacher is….http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2013649952_apusgatesfoundationteachers.html

See, What Works in the Classroom? Ask the Students http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/education/11education.html?emc=eta1

Bottom line, education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and school. All parts of the partnership must be involved. Students must arrive at school ready to learn. Parents must provide an environment which supports education and education achievement. Teachers must have strong subject matter knowledge and pedagogic skills. Schools must provide safe environments and discipline. Communities are also part of a successful school system and outcome for community children. Education is a partnership.

Resource:

A Comparative Study of Teacher Preparation and Qualifications in Six Nations
Consortium for Policy Research In Education
By Richard M. Ingersoll, United States With
Ding Gang and Sun Meilu, People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Kwok Chan Lai, Hong Kong
Hidenori Fujita, Japan
Ee-gyeong Kim, Republic of Korea
Steven K. S. Tan and Angela F. L. Wong, Singapore
Pruet Siribanpitak and Siriporn Boonyananta, Thailand
http://www.cpre.org/images/stories/cpre_pdfs/sixnations_final.pdf

Related:

The attempt to evaluate teacher colleges is getting nasty
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/523/

Could newest teaching strategy be made in Japan?
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/could-newest-teaching-strategy-be-made-in-japan/

New Harvard study about impact of teachers https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/new-harvard-study-about-impact-of-teachers/

Is it true that the dumbest become teachers? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/is-it-true-that-the-dumbest-become-teachers/

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The teacher master’s degree and student achievement

23 Jul

In Education Trust report: Retaining teachers in high-poverty areas, moi said:

Every population of kids is different and they arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Schools and teachers must be accountable, but there should be various measures of judging teacher effectiveness for a particular population of children. Perhaps, more time and effort should be spent in developing a strong principal corps and giving principals the training and assistance in evaluation and mentoring techniques.

The Ed Trust report, entitled “Building and Sustaining Talent: Creating Conditions in High-Poverty Schools That Support Effective Teaching and Learning,” examines how several districts have handled the issue of teacher retention:

Specifically, districts should take the following steps:

Recruit talented school leaders to their highest need schools, an get them to stay. In addition to the districts spotlighted earlier, the District of Columbia Public Schools has taken a rigorous approach to principal recruitment. The district scours student achievement data from school districts around the country (especially those close to D.C.) and then actively recruits principals of top-performing schools.

Put in place teacher and school-leader evaluation systems that differentiate educator effectiveness in order to identify top performing teachers and leaders. Using these systems in conjunction with data on working conditions and attrition, districts can study which teachers are more and less satisfied, as well as which ones are staying and leaving — and why.

Provide teachers in the highest need schools with meaningful professional growth and career ladders as well as opportunities to collaborate with other teachers, as Ascension Parish and Boston Public Schools have done.

Avoid isolating their most effective teachers and, instead, build teams of highly effective teachers in the district’s most challenging schools, as both Boston Public Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have done.

Concentrate not just on recruiting new school leaders and teachers to high-need schools, but on developing the skills and instructional abilities of existing employees, as have Fresno and Ascension Parish.

Implement a tool to measure teacher perceptions of their teaching environment, such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ working conditions survey, and then use data from the tool to identify target schools and determine primary issues that need to be addressed. For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools works with the New Teacher Center to implement a district-wide survey on working conditions. The district requires all schools to use the data to identify a plan of action and pays special attention to the plans of schools with the poorest survey results to ensure that the planned interventions align with the identified areas of need.

Once better evaluations are in place, districts should make working conditions data part of school and district-leader evaluations. North Carolina requires that survey data on working conditions are factored into school-leader evaluations, which encourages leaders to take the survey results seriously and to act on areas identified as needing improvement.

CONCLUSION

To date, the conditions that shape teachers’ daily professional lives have not been given the attention they deserve. Too often, a lack of attention to these factors in our highest poverty and lowest performing schools results in environments in which few educators would choose to stay. For too long, the high levels of staff dissatisfaction and turnover that characterize these schools have been erroneously attributed to their students. But research continues to demonstrate that students are not the problem. What matters most are the conditions for teaching and learning. Districts and states have an obligation to examine and act on these conditions. Otherwise, we will never make the progress that we must make to ensure all low-income students and students of color have access to great teachers.                                                                                                                                http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/Building_and_Sustaining_Talent.pdf

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise See, Report: Make Improving Teacher Working Conditions a Priority http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2012/06/report_make_improving_teacher_working_conditions_a_priority.html

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/education-trust-report-retaining-teachers-in-high-poverty-areas/

The Center for American Progress has released the report, The Sheepskin Effect and Student Achievement: De-emphasizing the Role of Master’s Degrees in Teacher Compensation written by Raegen Miller and Marguerite Roza.

Miller and Roza write in the issue brief:

All teachers in Finland have a master’s degree, and they get extraordinary results from their students. If we want be(er results in U.S. schools, then, we should require teachers to have a master’s degree, so the argument goes.

But this argument has two fatal flaws. First, teachers in Finland hail from the top 10 percent of their graduating class.25 “is selectivity is woven into a set of policies that Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor at Stanford University, has astutely described as a “teaching and learning system.”26 “e Finnish system could scarcely be more diferent than our domestic grab bag of policies arising from approximately 15,000 separate school districts carrying out their responsibility to provide public education, variously conceived by the diverse states of a country with an unmatched tolerance, at least among wealthy industrialized nations, for inequity in school funding and facilities.

Secondly, Finnish teachers hold master’s degrees that augment their knowledge and skills in a way that’s deliberately connected to their instructional challenges. Secondary teachers earn a master’s in the subject of instruction, and the master’s degree required of elementary teachers equips them with specialized knowledge and skills often found only among special education teachers and school psychologists in U.S. schools. “us, holding master’s degrees means Finnish teachers either have a serious grasp on academic content or are well equipped to problem solve around the individual learning needs of their students.

“The typical master’s degree held by a U.S. teacher and the associated skills a(ached pale in comparison. Moreover, it’s unlikely to move in this direction barring a tectonic shift in the higher-education landscape. Institutions of higher education, of course, won’t be at the vanguard of efforts to repeal legislation that inflates demand for one of their most lucrative products, master’s degrees in education. In addition, it bears mentioning, for example, that Connecticut’s requirement that teachers seeking a professional license hold a master’s degree was unscathed by recent reform-conscious legislation in that state. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/07/pdf/miller_masters.pdf

In Is it true that the dumbest become teachers? Moi said:

There is a quote attributed to H.L. Mencken:

Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach.

People often assume that if a person could do anything else, they probably wouldn’t teach. Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C. has an interesting article in the Washington Post.

In Do teachers really come from the ‘bottom third’ of college graduates? Di Carlo writes:

The conventional wisdom among many education commentators is that U.S. public school teachers “come from the bottom third” of their classes. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took this talking point a step further, and asserted at a press conference last week that teachers are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of graduates…

Overall, then, the blanket assertion that teachers are coming from the “bottom third” of graduates is, at best, an incomplete picture. It’s certainly true that, when the terciles are defined in terms of SAT/ACT scores, there is consistent evidence that new teachers are disproportionately represented in this group (see here and here for examples from the academic literature).

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-college-graduates/2011/12/07/gIQAg8HPdO_blog.html

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/is-it-true-that-the-dumbest-become-teachers/

There isn’t really a definitive answer. Miller and Roza’s analysis of the importance of the masters degree in Finland means that more training might be useful in student education achievement.

Related:

Urban teacher residencies                                        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/urban-teacher-residencies/

Study: When teachers overcompensate for prejudice https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/study-when-teachers-overcompensate-for-prejudice/

The teaching profession needs more males and teachers of color https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/the-teaching-profession-needs-more-males-and-teachers-of-color/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

What exactly are the education practices of top-performing nations?

28 May

In Is it true that the dumbest become teachers? Moi said:

There is a quote attributed to H.L. Mencken:

Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach.

People often assume that if a person could do anything else, they probably wouldn’t teach. Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C. has an interesting article in the Washington Post.

In Do teachers really come from the ‘bottom third’ of college graduates? Di Carlo writes:

The conventional wisdom among many education commentators is that U.S. public school teachers “come from the bottom third” of their classes. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took this talking point a step further, and asserted at a press conference last week that teachers are drawn from the bottom 20 percent of graduates.

All of this is supposed to imply that the U.S. has a serious problem with the “quality” of applicants to the profession.

Despite the ubiquity of the “bottom third” and similar arguments (which are sometimes phrased as massive generalizations, with no reference to actual proportions), it’s unclear how many of those who offer them know what specifically they refer to (e.g., GPA, SAT/ACT, college rank, etc.). This is especially important since so many of these measurable characteristics are not associated with futuretest-based effectiveness in the classroom, while those that are are only modestly so.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-college-graduates/2011/12/07/gIQAg8HPdO_blog.html

There isn’t really a definitive answer. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/is-it-true-that-the-dumbest-become-teachers/

Mercedes White of Deseret News has written a fabulous article, Can U.S. schools adopt education practices of top-performing nations?

While different countries have different approaches to and attitudes about education, there are things that all high performing countries do. Two of these are paying teachers well and keeping students in school longer.

Some object to these proposals on the basis of cost: adding more school days and paying teachers more will cost states money they don’t have. Other objections to the idea of borrowing the practices of other countries are more philosophical. Americans have different cultural values from many top performing countries which may limit the transferability of their techniques, according to James Stigler, professor of psychology at UCLA….

Unlike American teachers who come from the bottom 30 percent of their university classes, in Finland admission to education programs is competitive. Successful completion of a teacher training course is no guarantee of a job, however. There is under a 10 percent acceptance rate into the profession. The situation is similar in Korea. Elementary education majors are recruited from the top 5 percent of their high school classes, according to the Center for International Benchmarking in Education. Moreover, only 30 percent of secondary school teaching candidates in Korea are able to find jobs.

Difficulty getting a foot in the door adds to the prestige of the profession, but high pay is what attracts the best candidates. In all these countries teachers are also well compensated. American teachers make 97 percent of per capita GDP, whereas Finnish teachers make 110 percent. In a country with an extensive social services, this means that the average Finnish teachers purchasing power is well above average for discretionary purchases. Canadian teachers make 180 percent of per capital GDP, Japanese teachers 140 percent and Korean teachers a whopping 225 percent, according to data from OCED.

Not only are teachers in other countries better compensated, they work less. American teachers work an average of 1100 hours according to OCED data. By contrast teachers in Finland work about 600 hours, in Korea they average 550 hours. These factors combine to make teaching an attractive profession for high achievers.

Time to learn

Another shared characteristic of top performing nations is the amount of time their students spend in school. American students spend 180 days in school compared to the 243 days Japanese students spend in classes. Korean students aren’t far behind spending 220 days in school while the Finns have 190 instructional days…..

One of the arguments used by opponents of extended time in school, and increased teacher pay for that matter, is that it costs too much. While that may be true it is interesting to note that all of these countries are able to make it work on much less than the United States spends on education. In Canada they spend $7,770 per student. In Finland it is $9,500 per student. Korea spends $7,500 per student and Japan spends $9,800. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765578482/Can-US-schools-adopt-education-practices-of-top-performing-nations.html

Many have a love affair with by Finnish education system.

Moi wrote about the Finnish education system in The love affair with the Finnish education system:

Many educators around the world have a love affair with the Finnish education system. The question is what if anything which is successful about the Finnish system can be transported to other cultures?

The Pearson Foundation lists some key facts about Finland in their video series,Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education Pasi Sahlberg urges a measured analysis in his Washington Post article, What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform. See, Are Finnish schools the best in the world? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/are-finnish-schools-the-best-in-the-world-2289083.html

There are probably some lessons which can be learned from the Finnish experience, and the experiences of other nations, but we shouldn’t be looking through rose colored glasses. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/the-love-affair-with-the-finnish-education-system/

Still, it is interesting to note that other nations have better results and spend less than the U.S. per student.

Related:

Should summer break be shorter for some children? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/should-summer-break-be-shorter-for-some-children/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©