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AM News: Gates Study Gets Wall-To-Wall Coverage

News2What measures the best teacher? More than scores, study shows Reuters: Researchers found they could pick out the best teachers in a school and even predict roughly how much their students would learn if they rated the educators through a formula that put equal weight on student input, test scores and detailed classroom observations by principals and peers.

Teacher Observation Less Reliable Than Test Scores Huffington Post: While the study shows some reliability in measuring teachers who either overperform or underachieve dramatically, the authors note that "the vast majority of teachers are in the middle of the scale, with small differences in scores producing large changes in percentile rankings."

Good Teachers Linked to Test Success WSJ: The Gates Foundation said its study found that a combination of student surveys of teacher quality, well-crafted observations of classroom teaching and test scores is the best predictor of teacher effectiveness. Mr. Kane said combining all three is the best predictor of teacher quality.

 Gates Foundation study: We’ve figured out what makes a good teacher Washington Post: Researchers found that multiple classroom observations of teachers by several people — a principal, a peer, an outside expert — result in the most accurate assessments. Many school districts currently rely on observations by just one person, usually a principal.

Timely advice from Gates Foundation GothamSchools: Having multiple people observe the same teacher is more effective than having one person observe the teacher multiple times, the study found. Student surveys are stronger predictors of teachers’ ability to raise test scores than observations. And counting state test scores for a third to half of a teacher’s rating is better than weighting the scores less or more.

Senate Panel to Take a Closer Look at NCLB Waivers EdWeek: So far, without much public scrutiny from Congress, the U.S. Department of Education has been able to issue 35 waivers that made big, big changes to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. 

Report: More states using student data in reform Hechinger Report: The number of states embracing contentious education reforms meant to increase accountability for teachers rose rapidly last year. In 2009, no states tied tenure to a teacher’s performance in the classroom as measured by student achievement on standardized tests. Now, 15 states have policies that base teacher tenure partly on student test scores, up from eight just a year earlier, according to a report released Monday by the advocacy group, StudentsFirst.

Elite Colleges Struggle To Recruit Smart, Low-Income Kids NPR: Top schools often offer scholarships that not only include free tuition, but also free room and board for top students from poor families. Each year, however, colleges are confronted with a paradox: No matter how many incentives they provide, enrollment of highly talented, low-income student barely seems to budge.

Lessons From 30 Years Of Education Reporting NPR: Jay Mathews writes the Class Struggle column for The Washington Post, and looks at issues like educational disparities and access to higher education. He's documented persisting problems and highlighted creative solutions. He talks with host Michel Martin about the past, present and future of education in America.




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A crucial aspect of the Gates Foundation study is the definition of "teacher effectiveness". The study appears (it doesn't say so directly, but its focus excludes all else) to define this as "helping students achieve higher scores on tests", and it bases its conclusions on external exam results in two subjects in the grades preceding high school, clearly a minority of the teaching going on in all American schools here being generalized about. But effective teaching, as we are defining it at One World Secondary School (based in part on the appraisal system in place in Singapore), includes (A) holistic development of students through quality learning, pastoral care for the well-being of students, and co- and extracurricular activities; (B) contribution to the school (this is where the Newtown teachers who saved their students' lives would be highly appraised, something not considered in the effectiveness formulas of the report), (C) collaboration with parents, (D) professional development, and (E) other professional responsibilities.

The report's definition of effective teaching is too narrow and does not accurately reflect the complexity of teachers' professional work.

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