Tag Archives: Teacher Evaluation

Landmark California case regarding teacher tenure: Vergara v. California

1 Feb

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential
2. Student Successes
3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject
4. Daily Humor
5. Affecting the Future
6. Staying Younger
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
8. Conducive to Family Life
9. Job Security
10. Summers Off
http://712educators.about.com/od/teacherresources/tp/teachergood.htm

Because of the recession, many are turning to teaching as a career that might have employment possibilities. Although there may be job cuts as states and some locales cope with diminishing tax revenue, the education sector still looks good in comparison with other sectors. Information about teaching requirements can be found at Education Week Career Community http://resources.topschooljobs.org/tsj/states/

The issue of teacher tenure is important because:

There is no shortage of data that show a significant percentage of teachers leave just when they are becoming consistently effective. However, at the same time, too many teachers who have not become consistently effective achieve permanent status, also referred to as tenure.

The question surrounding teacher tenure is how to protect quality teachers from unfair termination?

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html?artId=1859505?contType=article?chn=us

What are the Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure?

One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure The reasons are:

A) The teacher shortage is not evenly distributed. High performing schools don’t have the same problems attracting teacher. High paying district don’t have the same problems attracting teachers….
B) This really comes down to the question of why principals might want to be rid of a teacher. I would suggest that any manager would want to be rid of any employee who makes his/her job or life harder. Ideally, this would only be low performing teachers, but that is a fantasy view.
Any kind of rabble rouser can make a principal’s job harder. …Obviously, union activists are already protected by other labor laws.
C) Academic freedom in K12 is not like in higher education, that’s true. But it is still an issue.
A teacher who tries to raise the bar in his/her classes can create no end of problems for a principal. If standards in school have been too low, and a teacher demands more than students are accustomed to, students and their parents can demand enormous amounts of principal’s time. This is a different form of rocking the boat, but can still be enough for a principal to wish to be rid of the teacher.
Principals cannot be experts on everything. Once, when teaching high school English, my principal as a former middle school math teacher. He insisted that I as an English teacher, “not worry about critical and analytical thinking” and “just teach English.” Though he had no training or experience with high school English, he had ideas about what it meant. He did not approve of the fact that I was spending as much time on teaching my student how to reason as on the mechanics of writing. …
Another principal might be an old school traditionalist and insist that English classes only be about books. He might not approve of using film or video to teach about theme, plot, symbolism, character development, story arcs, allegory and any of the rest. But a teacher might feel that this would be the best way for students to learn these lessons….
No, we don’t need tenure if principals can be counted on to make good decisions in the best interests of children. But they are human, and therefore often make decisions in their own interests. Moreover, we have a real shortage of high quality principals, even as we are breaking up large schools into multiple small schools and opening up charter schools….
I do not suggest that there are not problems with our tenure system. A lot falls to principals, perhaps too much. Teacher observation and evaluation is not easy, and the tenure process in dependent on principals making good decisions about teachers during those first three years. …And that is why we still need tenure. It takes a series of bad decisions over a number of years for a poor teacher to get tenure. But without tenure, it only takes one bad decision for a good to be dismissed. http://ceolaf.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-k12-teachers-need-tenure.html

Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work. Vergara v. California is a California case about teacher tenure.

Jennifer Medina reported in the New York Times article, Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom:

In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage….
At issue is a set of rules that grant permanent employment status to California teachers after 18 months on the job, require a lengthy procedure to dismiss a teacher, and set up a seniority system in which the teachers most recently hired must be the first to lose their jobs when layoffs occur, as they have regularly in recent years.
Teachers’ unions, which hold powerful sway among lawmakers here, contend that the protections are necessary to ensure that teachers are not fired unfairly. Without these safeguards, the unions say, the profession will not attract new teachers….
The month long trial promises to be a closely watched national test case on employment laws for teachers, one of the most contentious debates in education. Many school superintendents and advocates across the country call such laws detrimental and anachronistic, and have pressed for the past decade for changes, with mixed success. Tenure for teachers has been eliminated in three states and in Washington, D.C., and a handful of states prohibit seniority as a factor in teacher layoffs. But in many large states with urban school districts, including California and New York, efforts to push through such changes in the legislature have repeatedly failed.
While several lawsuits demanding more money for schools have succeeded across the country, the California case is the most sweeping legal challenge claiming that students are hurt by employment laws for teachers. The case also relies on a civil rights argument that so far is untested: that poor and minority students are denied equal access to education because they are more likely to have “grossly ineffective” teachers.
Judge Rolf Michael Treu, of Los Angeles County Superior Court, will decide the nonjury trial. His ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court…
The first witness for the plaintiffs was John E. Deasy, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and a staunch opponent of tenure rules and “last in, first out” seniority for teachers. Mr. Deasy testified that attempts to dismiss ineffective teachers can cost $250,000 to $450,000 and include years of appeals and legal proceedings. Often, he said, the district is forced to decide that the time and money would be too much to spend on a case with an unclear outcome, in part because a separate governing board can reinstate the teachers. Such rules make it impossible not to place ineffective teachers at schools with high poverty rates, he told the court….
Teachers’ unions contend that such job protections help schools keep the best teachers and recruit new ones to a job that is often exhausting, challenging and low paid. Mr. Finberg, the lawyer for the unions, said in court that the fact that Mr. Deasy has increased the number of ineffective teachers dismissed from the classroom — to about 100 of the district’s 30,000 teachers — suggests that the laws are working.
The plaintiffs’ legal team, from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, includes not only Mr. Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush, but also Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Apple in its antitrust case on e-book pricing. The lawyers and public relations firm behind Students Matter previously teamed to overturn the California ballot measure against same-sex marriage and say this case could have a similar ripple effect across the country. Among the boldface names siding publicly with the plaintiffs is Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who joined them in a news conference outside the courthouse this week….
Teachers’ unions nationwide have fought changes in employment laws, contending that their members must be protected from capricious or vengeful administrators. In Colorado, where a sweeping law in 2010 created a new system to evaluate teachers, the unions are suing over a provision that lets principals decide whether to hire veteran teachers who lost jobs because of budget cuts or drops in enrollment.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a telephone interview that the California case echoes the fights she had when she led the teachers’ union in New York, and called the lawsuit “worse than troubling….”
State education laws across the country are changing. School districts in 29 states use poor effectiveness as grounds for dismissal, according to a report released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank that tracks teacher policies. Just five years ago, no states allowed student performance to be considered in teachers’ evaluations, said Kate Walsh, the executive director of the center. Now, 20 states require such data.
“We have really seen mountains move in some places — the trend in the country has been toward meaningful ways to evaluate teachers and to use that evaluation to make tenure decisions,” Ms. Walsh said in an interview. “But I don’t think anyone has figured out how to implement them particularly well yet.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/education/fight-over-effective-teachers-shifts-to-courtroom.html?ref=education&_r=0

See, Students Matter http://studentsmatter.org/

Here is the case summary for Vergara v. California:

Vergara v. California Case Summary: Californians shouldn’t have to choose: we can create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher and gives effective teachers the respect and rewarding careers they deserve. We believe every child, everywhere, deserves great teachers, and so does the California Supreme Court and the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court has long recognized that equal opportunity to access quality education is every child’s fundamental constitutional right.
With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers. Meet the Plaintiffs.
We think it’s simple: reward and retain passionate, motivating, effective teachers and hold those accountable who are failing our children. By striking down the following laws, Vergara v. California will create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators and community leaders to design a system that’s good for teachers and students. Because when it comes to educating our kids, there should only be winners.
Permanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment law forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after only 18 months—before new teachers even complete their beginner teacher programs and before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be effective long-term.
Dismissal Statutes: The process for dismissing a single ineffective teacher involves a borderline infinite number of steps, requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and still, rarely ever works. In the past 10 years in the entire state of California, only 91 teachers have been dismissed, and the vast majority of those dismissals were for egregious conduct. Only 19 dismissals were based, in whole or in part, on unsatisfactory performance.
“Last-In, First-Out” Layoff Statute: The LIFO law reduces teachers to faceless seniority numbers. The LIFO law forces administrators to let go of passionate and motivating newer teachers and keep ineffective teachers instead, just because they have seniority.
In May 2013, the state’s two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, intervened in the case to defend these statutes alongside the State. The 20-day trial for Vergara v. California begins on January 27, 2014.
View the full Vergara v. California case timeline and read about what happens if we win.
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-status/timeline/
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/if-we-win/
Also, view and download a one-pager on Students Matter and the Vergara v. California lawsuit.
http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SM_One-Pager-FINAL_01.25.14.pdf
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case. According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured,gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure. http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/law/centers/childlaw/childed/pdfs/2009studentpapers/roulbet_teacher_tenure.pdf

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation. Teacher Evaluation Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.

In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.

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National Center for Education Evaluation study: Teach for America teachers more successful at math teaching

14 Sep

Moi wrote in Urban teacher residencies:
One of the huge issues in educating ALL children is how to attract high quality teachers to high needs areas and to retain those teachers. One program designed to address that issue is the “Urban Teacher Residency Model.” Barnett Barry and Diana Montgomery of the Center for Teaching Quality along with Jon Snyder of Bank Street College wrote an interesting 2008 paper, Urban Teacher Residency Models and Institutions of Higher Education: Implications for Teacher Preparation:

In brief, UTRs recruit teaching talent aggressively, with the supply and demand needs of local districts in mind. They also insist on extensive preparation, whereby recruits are paid a stipend while learning to teach in a full-year residency, under the watchful eye of expert K-12 teachers. Because the Residents are not fully responsible for teaching children, they have more quality time to take relevant pedagogical coursework ―wrapped around‖ their intense student teaching experience. While both AUSL and BTR are relatively new programs, early studies on their graduates’ effectiveness and their high retention rates of 90 to 95 percent suggest these models hold great promise for preparing and supporting teachers in high-needs urban schools.
We believe the time is now for the teacher education community to embrace UTRs —supporting the development of them while also using them to improve their current programs. The struggles of both traditional and alternative pathways to certification are well known. For example, many traditional university-based programs are challenged by:
 Difficulty in attracting high academic achievers and teacher candidates of color;
 Too few opportunities for prospective teachers to be taught by exemplary classroom teachers;
 Failure to meet shortage area needs in subjects such as math, science, and special education, as well as the need for English Language Learners teachers;
 Limited resources and structures to provide induction support for their graduates in a systematic way once they begin teaching; and
 Lack of accountability for the effectiveness of their graduates.
On the other hand, alternate pathways, which often are touted for their ability to recruit high academic achieving candidates and to prepare teachers for specific districts, face challenges as well…. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED503644

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

Schools must be allowed to match available resources to students.

Julia Ryan reported in The Atlantic article, Study: Students Learn More Math With Teach for America Teachers:

The results of a two-year, 4,573-student study by the U.S. Department of Education
How effective are Teach for America teachers? It’s a question that the organization’s critics and fans alike have been trying to answer for years. The Teach for America website points to studies of school districts in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee, which all found that “corps members often help their students achieve academic gains at rates equal to or larger than those for students of more veteran teachers.” (Emphasis mine.) TFA skeptics cite a range of other studies that show students with traditionally certified teachers achieving higher gains.
A new study by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (a part of the United States Department of Education) will encourage TFA supporters. The first large-scale random assignment study of TFA secondary math teachers, it found that the TFA teachers were more effective than other instructors at their schools.
“By providing rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of secondary math teachers from TFA and the Teaching Fellows programs, the study can shed light on potential approaches for improving teacher effectiveness in hard-to-staff schools and subjects,” the authors wrote.
The study included 4,573 students at middle and high schools across the country. In the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, researchers randomly assigned the students in each school to similar math courses–some were taught by TFA teachers, and others or by teachers who entered teaching through traditional or other, less selective alternative programs. The students with TFA teachers performed better on end-of-year exams than their peers in similar courses taught by other teachers. The bump in their test scores is equivalent to an additional 2.6 months of school for the average student nationwide.
The study also seemed to disprove the common criticism that, because TFA teachers only sign on for two years of teaching, they do not gain the experience necessary to become effective teachers. The study found that TFA teachers were more effective than both novice and experienced teachers from other certification programs. Students of TFA teachers in their first three years of teaching scored 0.08 standard deviations higher than students of other teachers in their first three years of teaching and 0.07 standard deviations higher than students of other teachers with more than three years of experience teaching.
However, the study pointed out that the results do not necessarily reflect the effectiveness of the TFA training itself, as the organization attracts a different applicant pool than traditional or other, less selective certification programs. The authors point out that both TFA and Teaching Fellows, another competitive teaching program, have “unique procedures for recruiting and selecting individuals” and look for characteristics they believe are “associated with effectiveness in the classroom.”
Only 23 percent of teachers from traditional or less-selective certification programs graduated from a selective college or university, while 81 percent of TFA teachers did. And although the TFA teachers were less likely to have majored or minored in math, they scored significantly higher on a test of math knowledge than their teacher counterparts. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/09/study-students-learn-more-math-with-teach-for-america-teachers/279527/

See, TFA Teachers Shown to Boost Secondary Math http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/09/11/04alternatives.h33.html?tkn=MWLFZkqS35ySzRJT3SsDjWlS1lm%2BJyt5VscZ&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

Citation:

The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs
Teach For America (TFA) and the Teaching Fellows programs are important and growing sources of teachers of hard-to-staff subjects in high-poverty schools, but comprehensive evidence of their effectiveness has been limited. A large-scale random assignment study examines the effectiveness of secondary math teachers from two highly selective alternative certification route programs: Teach for America (TFA) and Teaching Fellows.
The study separately compares the effectiveness of teachers from each program with the effectiveness of other teachers teaching the same subjects in the same schools. On average, students assigned to TFA teachers had higher math scores at the end of the school year than students assigned to comparison teachers. Students of Teaching Fellows and comparison teachers had similar math scores, on average. However, students with Teaching Fellows teachers did outperform students whose teachers entered the classroom through less selective alternative routes.
View, download, and print the report as a PDF file (1.9 MB)
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20134015/pdf/20134015.pdf
View, download, and print the executive summary as a PDF file (386 KB)
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20134015/pdf/20134016.pdf

Here is a portion of the Executive Summary:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Teach For America (TFA) and the Teaching Fellows programs are an important and growing source of teachers of hard-to-staff subjects in high-poverty schools, but comprehensive evidence of their effectiveness has been limited. This report presents findings from the first large-scale random assignment study of secondary math teachers from these programs. The study separately examined the effectiveness of TFA and Teaching Fellows teachers, comparing secondary math teachers from each program with other secondary math teachers teaching the same math courses in the same schools. The study focused on secondary math because this is a subject in which schools face particular staffing difficulties.
The study had two main findings, one for each program studied:
1. TFA teachers were more effective than the teachers with whom they were compared. On average, students assigned to TFA teachers scored 0.07 standard deviations higher on end-of-year math assessments than students assigned to comparison teachers, a statistically significant difference. This impact is equivalent to an additional 2.6 months of school for the average student nationwide.
2. Teaching Fellows were neither more nor less effective than the teachers with whom they were compared. On average, students of Teaching Fellows and students of comparison teachers had similar scores on end-of-year math assessments.

By providing rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of secondary math teachers from TFA and the Teaching Fellows programs, the study can shed light on potential approaches for improving teacher effectiveness in hard-to-staff schools and subjects. The study findings can provide guidance to school principals faced with the choice of hiring teachers who have entered the profession via different routes to certification. The findings can also aid policymakers and funders of teacher preparation programs by providing information on the effectiveness of teachers from various routes….

There will continue to be battles between those who favor a more traditional education and those who are open to the latest education fad. These battles will be fought out in school board meetings, PTSAs, and the courts. There is one way to, as Susan Powder says, “Stop the Insanity.” Genuine school choice allows parents or guardians to select the best educational setting for their child. Many policy wonks would like to believe that only one type of family seeks genuine school choice, the right wing wacko who makes regular visits on the “tea party” circuit. That is not true. Many parents favor a back-to-the basics traditional approach to education.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in education.

Related:

Study: Early mastery of fractions is a predictor of math success https://drwilda.com/2012/06/26/study-early-mastery-of-fractions-is-a-predictor-of-math-success/

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Study: Performance of teachers can be tracked over time

5 Mar

Moi wrote in Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness:

Public Impact has a produced a report, Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: A Look “Under the Hood” of Teacher Evaluation in 10 Sites which examines teacher evaluation efforts in three states. So, how is teacher effectiveness measured? Well, kids know good teaching when they see it. Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP reports in 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….

See, Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds

https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Best and Worst Teachers Can Be Flagged Early, Says Study:

New teachers become much more effective with a few years of classroom experience, but a working paperRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader by a team of researchers suggests the most—and least—effective elementary teachers show their colors at the very start of their careers.

“This is a fundamentally different time period for teachers, when we know they are going through changes,” said lead author Allison Atteberry, a research associate in the Center on Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She discussed preliminary results of the study at a research meeting on K-12 and postsecondary education held by the Washington-based National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, known as CALDER, on Feb. 21.

“We know less about how these value-added measures work in the early career,” she added.

The study tracked the individual effectiveness of more than 7,600 incoming New York City teachers in mathematics and English/language arts. Each of the teachers taught 4th or 5th grade from 2000 to 2006.

The researchers analyzed teacher records from the New York city and state education departments, along with data on the teachers’ students, including achievement-test results in math and English/language arts, gender, ethnicity, home language, poverty, special education status, and absences and suspensions.

Predicting Performance

While incoming New York City teachers became more effective at improving their students’ mathematics and English/language arts performance in their first few years on the job, new research finds that they’re often still in the same performance quintile after four or five years. Researchers compared the mean effectiveness in the first two years with effectiveness in later years.

Ms. Atteberry’s co-authors are Susanna Loeb, the director of Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, and James H. Wyckoff, an education professor at the University of Virginia. They and Ms. Atteberry are all associated with CALDER.

For the incoming teachers who continued to teach for at least five years, the researchers compared the mean value-added effectiveness at improving student achievement in math and English in their first two years of teaching with their effectiveness for the next three years.

Overall, the teachers improved significantly in their first two years in their value-added score. While more than 36 percent of teachers were rated in the lowest of five levels of effectiveness at the start of their careers, only 12 percent were still rated in that same quintile by their third year of teaching.

Limited Growth?

However, when teachers at each initial level of effectiveness were tracked individually over time, their growth was much less significant. Compared with other teachers who started at the same time they did, teachers in the lowest 20 percent were still likely to be in the lowest 20 percent three to five years later.

“When you look at teachers who in the future are low-performing, very few of those come from the initially highest quintile of performance, and the same is true in the opposite direction,” Ms. Atteberry said. “We see that even more at the high end: Teachers who are initially highest-performing are by far the most likely to be in the highest quintile in the future….” http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/03/06/23teacher.h32.html?tkn=MOYFY6ibw6ZMewuL2mU5P2GmWgqqd0wVbbr2&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

Citation:

Do First Impressions Matter? Improvement in Early Career Teacher Effectiveness

Allison Atteberry, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff

CALDER Working Paper No. 90

February 2013

Abstract

There is increasing agreement among researchers and policymakers that teachers vary widely in their ability to improve student achievement, and the difference between effective and ineffective teachers hassubstantial effects on standardized test outcomes as well as later life outcomes. However, there is notsimilar agreement about how to improve teacher effectiveness. Several research studies confirm that onaverage novice teachers show remarkable improvement in effectiveness over the first five years of their careers. In this paper we employ rich data from New York City to explore the variation among teachers in early career returns to experience. Our goal is to bet ter understand the extent to which measures of teacher effectiveness during the first two years reliably predicts future performance. Our findings suggest that early career returns to experience may provide useful insights regarding future performance and offer opportunities to better understand how to improve teacher effectiveness. We present evidence not only about the predictive power of early value-added scores, but also on the limitations and imprecision of those predictions. http://auth.calder.commonspotcloud.com/publications/upload/wp90.pdf

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. Really, it comes down to each population of kids should have solutions tailored for their needs. There really should not be a one size approach to education.

Related:

Is classroom practice the missing ingredient in teacher training?                                                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/10/04/is-classroom-practice-the-missing-ingredient-in-teacher-training/

The teacher master’s degree and student achievement https://drwilda.com/2012/07/23/the-teacher-masters-degree-and-student-achievement/

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

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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                        http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/

National Education Policy Brief: Designing teacher evaluations

25 Sep

Teacher evaluation is a hot topic. Moi wrote in Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness:

Public Impact has a produced a report, Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: A Look “Under the Hood” of Teacher Evaluation in 10 Sites which examines teacher evaluation efforts in three states. So, how is teacher effectiveness measured? Well, kids know good teaching when they see it. Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP reports in 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….

See,Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

Dr William Mathis of the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education has written a policy brief which focuses on teacher evaluation.

Here is the press release for Research-Based Options for Education Policy Making:

New Brief Offers Suggestions for Teacher Evaluation Design

Contact

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/9x5wrws

BOULDER, CO (September 20, 2012) –The first in a new series of two-page briefs summarizing the state of play in education policy research offers suggestions for policymakers designing teacher evaluation systems.

The paper is written by Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Mathis summarizes research findings on the effects of teacher evaluation systems, including unintended as well as intended consequences. At a time when teacher evaluation controversies in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other school districts have erupted—particularly over the issue of evaluations based in part on the growth of students’ test scores—understanding the evidence about these issues has taken on new urgency.

Mathis counsels that lawmakers should be wary of approaches based in large part on test scores, because of three problems:
1.      The measurement error is large—which results in many teachers being incorrectly labeled as effective or ineffective;
2.      Given that only certain grade levels and subject areas are tested, relevant test scores are not available for most teachers; and
3.      The incentives created by the high-stakes use of test scores drive undesirable teaching practices such as curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.

Instead, he advocates systems like peer assistance and review (PAR) that de-emphasize test scores. Such systems are more labor intensive but that have “far greater potential to enrich instruction and improve education.” He also advocates balancing summative, high-stakes assessment systems “with formative approaches that identify strengths and weaknesses of teachers and directly focus on developing and improving their teaching.”

In any case, “Given the extensive range of activities, skills, and knowledge involved in teachers’ daily work, the system’s goals must be clear, explicit and reflect practitioner involvement,” Mathis says.

This two-page brief is part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

Find William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/options-teacher-evaluations

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This brief is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

Citation:

William J. Mathis

September 20, 2012

Research-Based Options for Education Policy Making is a 10-part brief that takes up important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research.  Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations for policymakers are based on the latest scholarship. 

Introduction

Section 1:  Teacher Evaluation.  After reviewing different types of evaluative methods, Mathis points out the importance of using a combination of methods, of including all stakeholders in decision-making about evaluation systems, and of investing in the evaluation system

Section 2:  Common Core State Standards    

Section 3:  Preschool Education

Section 4:  Effective School Expenditures

Section 5:  Funding Formulas and Choice

Section 6:  English Language Learners Parent Involvement

Section 7:  Dropout Strategies

Section 8:  21st Century College and Career Ready

Section 9:  LGBT Safety Policies

Section 10:  Detracking

Policy Brief Download

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation.Teacher Evaluation  Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

Related:

Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations https://drwilda.com/2012/07/27/study-teacher-merit-pay-works-in-some-situations/

Manhattan Institute study: Evidence that ‘value-added modeling’ may be effective                                                         https://drwilda.com/2012/09/08/manhattan-institute-study-evidence-that-value-added-modeling-may-be-effective/

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

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©   http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

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Manhattan Institute study: Evidence that ‘value-added modeling’ may be effective

8 Sep

In New Jersey may eliminate teacher tenure, moi discussed teacher tenure:

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?

The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.  

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work.

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case.

According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured, gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure.

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation.Teacher Evaluation  Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/16/new-jersey-may-eliminate-teacher-tenure/  Marcus A.Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute has written the Civic Report, Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers.

Here is the executive summary for Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers:

Executive Summary

Public school teachers in the United States are famously difficult to dismiss. The reason is simple: after three years on the job, most receive tenure—after a brief and subjective evaluation process (typically, a classroom visit or two by an administrator or another teacher) in which few receive negative ratings. Once tenured, teachers are armored against efforts to remove them, and most do not face any serious reevaluation to ensure that their skills stay up to standard. With this traditional approach, tenured teachers sometimes lose their positions for insubordination, criminal conduct, gross neglect, or other reasons—but almost never for simply being bad at the job.

This state of affairs protects teachers (both good and bad) quite well but is clearly harmful to students. The effects of a poor teacher, research has shown, haunt pupils for years afterward. Being assigned to such a teacher reduces the amount that a student learns in school and is associated with lower earnings in adulthood (in part because having an inadequate teacher makes a child more likely to have an early pregnancy and less likely to go to college). An education system that protects bad teachers does a grave disservice to the children in its care.

In recent years, some school districts have experimented with changes in tenure rules. They seek the power to remove ineffective teachers and, in some jurisdictions, to reevaluate teachers throughout their careers.

A keystone of this reform movement is the replacement of subjective evaluation with quantifiable measures of each teacher’s effectiveness. The quantitative method is known as value-added modeling (VAM), a statistical analysis of student scores that seeks to identify how much an individual teacher contributes to a pupil’s progress over the years. The use of VAM in teacher evaluations is growing, but the method remains extremely controversial. Critics often claim that it does not and cannot measure actual teacher quality.

This paper addresses that claim. Part I analyzes data from Florida public schools to show that a VAM score in a teacher’s third year is a good predictor of that teacher’s success in his or her fifth year. Having established that VAM is a useful predictive tool, Part II of the paper addresses the most effective ways that VAM can be used in tenure reform.

VAM is not a perfect measure of teacher quality because, like any statistical test, it is subject to random measurement errors. So it should not be regarded as the “magic bullet” solution to the problem of evaluating teacher performance. However, the method is reliable enough to be part of a sensible policy of tenure reform—one that replaces “automatic” tenure with rigorous evaluation of new candidates and periodic reexamination of those who have already received tenure.

About the Author

Marcus A. Winters is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He conducts research and writes extensively on education policy, including topics such as school choice, high school graduation rates, accountability, and special education. Winters has performed several studies on a variety of education policy issues including high-stakes testing, performance-pay for teachers, and the effects of vouchers on the public school system. His research has been published in the journals Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, Economics of Education Review, Teachers College Record, and Education Next. His op-ed articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Weekly Standard, and National Affairs. He is often quoted in the media on education issues. Winters received a B.A. in political science from Ohio University in 2002, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Arkansas in 2008.

Citation:

Civic Report

No. 70 August 2012

Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers

Marcus Winters, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_70.htm

TAP defines ‘value-added evaluation.”

According to TAP ‘value-added evaluation’ is:

Understanding Value-Added Analysis of Student Achievement

What is Value-Added Analysis?
Value-added analysis is a statistical technique that uses student achievement data over time to measure the learning gains students make. This methodology offers a way to estimate the impact schools and teachers have on student learning isolated from other contributing factors such as family characteristics and socioeconomic background. In other words, value-added analysis provides a way to measure the effect a school or teacher has on student academic performance over the course of a school year or another period of time.

Academic Attainment v. Academic Growth
Academic attainment is the level of achievement a student reaches at a point in time (e.g., on the state standardized test given at the end of any given school year). Usually referred to by a specific numerical score or standard of achievement (e.g., basic, proficient, advanced, etc.), academic attainment levels are what are typically used to rate school and/or teacher performance.

In contrast academic growth is the amount of academic gain or progress a student makes over a period of time (e.g., on the state test given over several grades). Value-added analysis is a methodology to measure academic growth and attribute it to the impact the school or teacher has had on student learning.

Benefits of Using Value-Added Analysis
Value-added analysis provides a more useful indicator of school and teacher performance than looking at student attainment levels, which is commonly used in public education today, for several reasons.

First, value-added analysis provides a more accurate way to measure student academic progress. Value-added analysis tracks the same student over time and compares his/her test scores over several years. In contrast, systems like Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) look at the fourth grade math scores for one year, for example, and compare them to the fourth grade math scores from the previous year. This yields an inaccurate comparison because the groups of students may be significantly different from year to year (Braun, 2005).

Second, value-added analysis provides a measure for how much of an impact the school and individual teachers have on student achievement. Looking at the attainment level of a school or classroom on a state test provides little information about the impact the school or teacher has had on the final score as compared with other influences on student achievement like family background and socioeconomic status. By judging only one score, it is difficult to identify how much of that score was influenced by factors outside of the school as compared to other factors that can be controlled within the school (e.g., the contributions of the teacher and school).

Third, when student achievement is tied to accountability systems, value-added analysis provides a fairer method to measure school and teacher impact on student achievement because it takes into account where a student started the school year academically and how much that student grew. Judging a school’s or teacher’s performance by looking at student academic attainment levels is unfair because some students may enter a teacher’s classroom already at high levels of achievement — or conversely, several grade levels behind their peers. Without considering the academic growth teachers and schools are able to make with their students, some teachers and schools may inaccurately be attributed with making a significant impact while others may be unfairly penalized.

How TAP Schools Use Value-Added Data
School districts that are implementing TAP district-wide often use value-added data to identify schools, grades and content areas that have or have not increased student achievement. These data help district officials plan how to target professional development so that it is most effective for teachers and schools. Districts can also use these data to identify effective teachers and administrators who can be utilized as mentors for others at schools that have not made significant academic gains.

At the school level, TAP leadership teams utilize value-added data to address the instructional needs of teachers both at the individual and group levels. By analyzing teacher value-added scores and comparing them to a teacher’s evaluation scores (based on observations of classroom instruction), leadership teams are able to identify “best practices” that are having a positive impact on student achievement. Leadership teams can then share these best practices with other teachers during weekly cluster group meetings (professional learning communities) to promote effective instruction. Leadership team members also use comparative data to conference with teachers on a one-on-one basis and inform the development of teachers’ individual professional growth plans to reach instructional goals.

At the classroom level, teachers analyze the value-added data from their own students by subgroups (such as high, medium and low performing students) to identify trends in their own instruction. The data may reveal that their instruction is targeted more to a specific subgroup and, as a result, teachers make adjustments in their instruction. This data analysis process allows teachers to meet the needs of all students more effectively and support the individual academic growth of their students regardless of their ability level. http://www.tapsystem.org/policyresearch/policyresearch.taf?page=valueadded

Brookings Institute wrote about ‘value-added models’ in a 2010 report.

Steven Glazerman, Dan Goldhaber, Susanna Loeb , Stephen Raudenbush, and Douglas Staiger wrote in the article, Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added:

The evaluation of teachers based on the contribution they make to the learning of their students, value-added, is an increasingly popular but controversial education reform policy. We highlight and try to clarify four areas of confusion about value-added. The first is between value-added information and the uses to which it can be put. One can, for example, be in favor of an evaluation system that includes value-added information without endorsing the release to the public of value-added data on individual teachers. The second is between the consequences for teachers vs. those for students of classifying and misclassifying teachers as effective or ineffective — the interests of students are not always perfectly congruent with those of teachers. The third is between the reliability of value-added measures of teacher performance and the standards for evaluations in other fields — value-added scores for individual teachers turn out to be about as reliable as performance assessments used elsewhere for high stakes decisions. The fourth is between the reliability of teacher evaluation systems that include value-added vs. those that do not — ignoring value-added typically lowers the reliability of personnel decisions about teachers. We conclude that value-added data has an important role to play in teacher evaluation systems, but that there is much to be learned about how best to use value-added information in human resource decisions.                                                                                  http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2010/11/17-evaluating-teachers

The key point is the use of ‘value-added modeling’ may or may not be useful.

Resources:

Leading mathematician debunks ‘value-added’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/leading-mathematician-debunks-value-added/2011/05/08/AFb999UG_blog.html

Evaluating ValueAdded Models for Teacher Accountability http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG158.pdf

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching recommends the following:

Comparisons Among Various Educational Assessment Value-Added Models
William L. Sanders, Presented at “The Power of Two” National Value-Added Conference, October 16, 2006
This paper discusses the differences between value-added models as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

FORUM: “Accountability Gains: Are we measuring achievement gains accurately enough?”
Education Next (2002) No. 2
This forum includes four articles by Dale Ballou, Anita A. Summer, Jay P. Greene and Donald R. McAdams discussing the pros and cons of value-added measurement of student achievement.

Research Brief: The Promise and Peril of Using Value-Added Modeling to Measure Teacher Effectiveness
RAND Corporation (2004)

This brief summarizes the findings of a longer research report, “Evaluating Value-Added Models for Teacher Accountability,” by Daniel F. McCaffrey, Daniel M. Koretz, J.R. Lockwood and Laura S. Hamilton (2004), which compares several value-added models and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of using such methodology for both diagnostic and accountability purposes.

Roundtable Discussion on Value-Added Analysis of Student Achievement: A Summary of Findings
The Working Group on Teacher Quality (2007)

Summarized from a roundtable discussion held in October 2007 among policymakers, researchers and practitioners, this document presents major themes, findings and lessons learned in value-added analysis of student achievement. The purpose of the discussion was to create a broader understanding of how value-added analysis of student achievement can be used as an indicator of teacher effectiveness and the implications this has for policy and practice.

Using Student Progress to Evaluate Teachers: A Primer on Value-Added Models
Henry I. Braun (September 2005)
This policy perspective provides reader-friendly information on the more technical issues associated with value-added modeling.

Value-Added Modeling: The Challenge of Measuring Educational Outcomes
Barbara Elizabeth Stewart (2006)
This article provides a summary of the history, definition, strengths and weaknesses of value-added modeling.

Websites

Battelle for Kids
Battelle for Kids is a non-profit organization based in Ohio, whose activities include helping districts and schools use value-added data to improve their instruction.

Houston Independent School District’s Accelerating Student Progress, Increasing Results & Expectations (ASPIRE) Program
This website provides information on the value-added model used in Houston Independent School District’s ASPIRE program. The site includes a guide to value-added for parents and families.

Related:

Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations https://drwilda.com/2012/07/27/study-teacher-merit-pay-works-in-some-situations/

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness                          https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations

27 Jul

Teacher compensation is a hot education topic. The role of evaluations in compensation, merit pay, pay based upon credentials and higher pay for specialty areas are all hot topics and hot button issues. The Center for American Progress has a report by Frank Adamson and Linda Darling Hammond. In the report, Speaking of Salaries: What It Will Take to Get Qualified, Effective Teachers In All Communities  Adamson and Darling- Hammond write:

As Education Trust President Kati Haycock has noted, the usual statistics about teacher credentials, as shocking as they are, actually understate the degree of the problem in the most impacted schools:

The fact that only 25% of the teachers in a school are uncertified doesn’t mean that the other 75% are fine. More often, they are either brand new, assigned to teach out of field, or low-performers on the licensure exam … there are, in other words, significant numbers of schools that are essentially dumping grounds for unqualified teachers – just as they are dumping grounds for the children they serve….

Download this report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise Marguerite Roza and Sarah Yatsko from the University of Washington’s Centeron Reinventing Education have an interesting February 2010 policy brief.

In Beyond Teacher Reassignments: Better Ways School Districts Can Remedy Salary Inequities Across Schools Districts Roza and Yatsko report:

This brief addresses this concern by demonstrating that districts would NOT need to mandatorily reassign teachers. It shows that there are other ways to restructure allocations that do not systematically shortchange the neediest schools. Discussed here are four options that districts could pursue to remedy school spending inequities created by uneven salaries:

  • Option 1: Apply teacher salary bonuses to some schools to balance salaries

  • Option 2: Vary class size across schools to level spending

  • Option 3: Concentrate specialist and support staff in schools with lower-salaried teachers

  • Option 4: Equalize per-pupil dollar allocations

Download Full Report (PDF: 736 K)

Of all the issues about teacher compensation, one of the hottest is “merit pay.”

Dylan Matthews writes in the Washington Post article, Does teacher merit pay work? A new study says yes:

There’s very good evidence that teacher quality matters a lot in terms of student performance in school and success later on in life. The economist Raj Chetty of Harvard, for example, has found that students randomly placed with more experienced kindergarten teachers not only perform better on tests but earn more and save more for retirement as adults, are likelier to go to college, and go to better colleges than their peers with less experienced teachers. Eric Hanushek of Stanford estimates that a good teacher – defined as at the 84th percentile, or one standard deviation above the mean for you stats nerds – provides students with test scores associated with an increase of between $22,000 and $46,000 in lifetime earnings.

Findings like these lead some to favor “merit pay” regimes that include student test scores as a determinant of teachers’ salaries. This has met opposition from teachers’ unions and testing skeptics, who argue that it would result in teaching-to-the-test at the expense of actual learning. For a long time, the data has been mixed on merit pay. Two studies from Mathematica Policy Research in 2010 that found little benefit, while a study in Nashville found mild benefits for fifth graders but none for other students.

That has changed with the publication of a new paper (pdf) by Harvard’s Roland Fryer, the University of Chicago’s Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and John List, and UC San Diego’s Sally Sadoff. The authors went into nine K-8 schools in Chicago Heights, a city 30 miles south of Chicago, and randomly selected teachers (who had to consent, which 93.75 percent did) to take part in a merit pay scheme. The students affected were overwhelmingly low-income, with 98 percent receiving free or subsidized lunches. Teachers in the experiment were offered $80 per percentile improvement in student test scores, for a maximum reward of $8,000, compared to a typical teacher salary of $50,000.

The authors split teachers in the study into a control group, who were not offered any rewards, a “gain” group, which was promised rewards of up to $8,000 at the end of the school year, and a “loss” group, which was given $4,000 upfront and asked to pay back any rewards they did not earn. The idea behind the latter group was that loss aversion should motivate teachers to perform better than they would if they only stood to gain more money. Additionally, the gain and loss groups were split, with a “team” group being rewarded on the basis of theirs and fellow teachers’ test scores, and the “individual” group being reward only on the basis of their own scores. The conclusion: it worked, and it worked almost twice as well when the money was given at the start and then taken away…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/23/does-teacher-merit-pay-work-a-new-study-says-yes/

One might ask why “merit pay’ seemed to work in the situation studied?

Jordan Weissmann writes a provocative analysis of the study in the Atlantic article, A Very Mean (But Maybe Brilliant) Way to Pay Teachers:

But Levitt, Fryer and Co. argue that there’s a serious problem with merit pay. So far, they say, there’s been scant evidence that it actually works. Studies of teacher incentive programs in Tennessee and New York City failed to find any signs that they improved student learning. In the New York experiment, which Harvard’s Fryer conducted, the impact may have even been detrimental. 

Enter loss aversion. The authors theorized that instead of offering a lump-sum bonus to teachers come summertime, it might be more effective to give instructors money upfront, then warn them that they would have to pay it back if their students didn’t hit the proper benchmarks. Rather than tap into teachers’ ambition, they’d tap into their anxiety.

To test their idea, the authors designed an experiment for the 2010-2011 school year involving 150 K-8 teachers from Chicago Heights, a low-income community in Illinois. The instructors were randomly assigned to a control group or one of two main bunches, which I’ll shorthand as the “winners” and the “losers.” The winners agreed to work under a traditional year-end bonus structure, where they could make up to $8,000 extra based on their students’ standardized test scores. The losers were given $4,000 off the bat and informed that if their students’ turned in below-average results, they’d have to pay a portion of it back commensurate with just how poor their scores were. On the flip side, an above-average performance could earn them additional bonus money, up to the full $8,000. 

The authors then divided the winners and losers again so that some teachers would be rewarded based on their results as a group, and others would be rewarded based on their results as individuals. 

Come vacation time, the losers had won. In math, paying teachers a year-end bonus had no statistically significant effect. When teachers had money to lose, though, their students over performed. The impact was large — the equivalent of improving a teacher’s skills by one full standard deviation — and the pattern held whether teachers were compensated as a group or as individuals. The authors’ data on reading scores turned out to be shakier, since most students ultimately had more than one instructor working with them on language skills, but it indicated a similar trend. 

In short, they found that merit pay can work. You just have to be tricky, and a little bit mean, with how you implement it…. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/a-very-mean-but-maybe-brilliant-way-to-pay-teachers/260234/#.UBHCJts3U6I.email

Citation:

Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment*

Roland G. Fryer, Jr.

Harvard University

Steven D. Levitt

The University of Chicago

John List

The University of Chicago

Sally Sadoff

University of California San Diego

Abstract

Domestic attempts to use financial incentives for teachers to increase student achievement have been ineffective. In this paper, we demonstrate that exploiting the power of loss aversion—teachers are paid in advance and asked to give back the money if their students do not improve sufficiently—increases math test scores between 0.201 (0.076) and 0.398 (0.129) standard deviations. This is equivalent to increasing teacher

quality by more than one standard deviation. A second treatment arm, identical to the loss aversion treatment but implemented in the standard fashion, yields smaller and statistically insignificant results. This suggests it is loss aversion, rather than other features of the design or population sampled, that leads to the stark differences between our findings and past research. 

What the various studies seem to point out is there is no one remedy which works in all situations and that there must be a menu of education options.

Resources:

A Lively Debate Over Teacher Salaries                         http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/01/05/a-lively-debate-over-teacher-salaries/

Are Teachers Overpaid?                                                http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/01/02/are-teachers-overpaid/

Some Teachers Skeptical of Merit Pay                   http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/01/13/some-teachers-skeptical-of-merit-pay/

Related:

Washington D.C. rolls out merit pay                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/washington-d-c-rolls-out-merit-pay/

Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/teacher-recruitment/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington

9 Jul

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

Dave Eggers and NÍnive Clements Calegari have a provocative article in the New York Times, The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries

At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible… https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/is-it-true-that-the-dumbest-become-teachers/

More researchers are looking at teacher salaries as an element of attracting and retaining quality teachers.

The Compensation Technical Working Group began researching teacher compensation in Washington:

Compensation Technical Work Group

Beginning in July 2011, as outlined in RCW 28A.400.201, the Compensation Working Group* began the process of developing an enhanced, collaboratively designed salary allocation model.

The new salary allocation model should align educator development and certification with compensation. It must also:

  • Attract and retain the highest quality educators
  • Reduce the number of tiers within the existing salary allocation model
  • Account for regions of the state where it may be difficult to recruit and retain teachers
  • Determine the role and types of bonuses available
  • Provide a solution to accomplish salary equalization over a set number of years
  • Include cost estimates, including a recognition that staff on the existing salary schedule have an option to be grandfathered permanently to the existing salary schedule
  • Conduct a comparative labor market analysis of school employee salaries and other compensation
  • Provide a concurrent implementation schedule

On June 30, 2012, the working group submitted its report to the Legislature:

Compensation Technical Working Group Report (Full Report, 178 pages)

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The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession summarized the report as follows:

After a year of study and work, the State’s Compensation Technical Work Group has released their recommendations to revamp the way the State pays educators and other staff in K-12 education.

Some of the highlights of their recommendations include:

  • Increasing the starting salary of teachers and educational staff associates to $48,687, which is about $15,000 more.   
  • Aligning the salary allocation model to the career continuum for educators, which would recognize a teacher’s movement from a residency certificate to a professional certificate, etc.  
  • Investing in 10 professional development days.  
  • Allocating mentors and instructional coaches in the Basic Education Funding Formula    

CSTP gathered survey responses from over 400 NBCTs about their feelings towards the draft recommendations. Their responses were presented to their Work Group in June. Click the NBCT Survey Summary

Next stop for these recommendations? The Quality Education Council who is made up of legislators, agency heads and educators. These recommendations can not be implemented without legislative action. To read the Work Group report, click here.  

Teacher compensation is subject to a lot of political wrangling.

Peter Callaghan of the News Tribune has written an incisive analysis of the report in the article, Teacher pay report has a lot to shock, and to like:

Under a law adopted in 1981, all teacher pay for delivering basic education must come from the state and is not subject to bargaining. In amendments approved in 1983, teachers can bargain to tap levy dollars but only for extra duties.

That additional pay can be granted only through supplemental contracts defining the extra time and responsibilities to be delivered or for “implementing specific measurable innovative activities.” This has become known as TRI pay (Time, Responsibility and Incentive.”)

But the task force’s group of education “stakeholders” – superintendents, board members, principals, finance officers and teacher union representatives – admitted it doesn’t work that way.

… after reviewing collective bargaining agreements and sharing professional experiences with TRI contracts, the (working group) overwhelmingly concluded that TRI contracts are most often used to increase the salary allocations of staff performing basic education functions,” the final report states.

There are many reasons for this violation of law, but the working group lands on just one – the districts and their teachers had to do it to make up for shortcomings in allocations for basic teacher pay by the state Legislature.

Another reason for the gradual erosion of the rules is that unions bargained hard for it, school boards gave in and the state looked the other way. Blaming the Legislature alone means the working group members didn’t have to point fingers at one another.
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/07/08/2208161/teacher-pay-report-has-a-lot-to.html#storylink=cpy

The answer to why there are not more quality teachers is not simple.

Related:

Teachers unions are losing members                         https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/

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

Teachers running schools                                     https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/teachers-running-schools/

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©