Thompson: Poverty's Effects And The MET Results
In his continuing disscussion with representatives of the Gates Foundation, Anthony Cody provides an excellent overview of the effects of poverty on student performance. He then draws on personal experience to describe behaviors that the Gates Foundation has not adequately considered:
"Many of these students are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and some are medicated so they can sit still in class. Often they are easily distracted, and this can create a steady stream of small disruptions in class, making it difficult for anyone to concentrate on the lesson at hand."
Obviously, the value-added portion of the Gates preferred evaluation experiment can not control for such conditions. I am equally suspicious of the human observation portion of their research. After all, their Measuring Effective Teaching (MET) sample is only 58% low income. I wonder how many of Gates' teachers serve in schools like Cody's where the principals can't provide disciplinary backing. The MET should run a controlled experiment. Evaluators should use their standard rubrics to rate instruction in classes like Cody's (and my old classes.) Then similar evaluators should be fully briefed on the histories of each child in such a class, as well as the actual operation of the schools' disciplinary, attendance, and academic policies. I'd like to see if the evaluators who are fully briefed on classroom realities would rank instructional quality the same way as those who are blissfully ignorant of the effects of intense concetrations of poverty and trauma.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.