Students recognize good teaching

Students’ assessments of their teachers tend to match value-added measures of effectiveness, concludes research funded by the Gates Foundation. From the New York Times: 

Teachers whose students described them as skillful at maintaining classroom order, at focusing their instruction and at helping their charges learn from their mistakes are often the same teachers whose students learn the most in the course of a year, as measured by gains on standardized test scores . . . 

Researchers are looking for correlations between value-added rankings and other measures of teacher effectiveness, reports the Times.

Classrooms where a majority of students said they agreed with the statement, “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time,” tended to be led by teachers with high value-added scores, the report said.

The same was true for teachers whose students agreed with the statements, “In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes,” and, “My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover in this class.”

“Kids know effective teaching when they experience it,” said researcher Ronald Ferguson, who designed the student questionnaires. “As a nation, we’ve wasted what students know about their own classroom experiences instead of using that knowledge to inform school reform efforts.”

Twenty states are redesigning their systems for evaluating teachers, often asking the Gates Foundation for help in assessing effectiveness, Vicki L. Phillips, a director of education at the foundation, told the Times.

Teachers who spend a lot of time on test prep have lower value-added learning gains than those who “work their way methodically through the key concepts of literacy and mathematics,” Phillips said.

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