Movin’ and improvin’

Teacher-effectiveness data should be used to help teachers improve, not just to fire incompetents, argues Movin’ It and Improvin’ It! by Craig Jerald, an education policy consultant, on the the Center for American Progress site.

. . . districts are missing an opportunity to … help leverage their highest performers and help teachers with strong potential grow into solid contributors.

The  “movin’ it” strategy uses “selective recruitment, retention, and ‘deselection’ to attract and keep teachers with higher effectiveness while removing teachers with lower effectiveness.

In contrast, “improvin’ it” policies treat teachers’ effectiveness as a mutable trait that can be improved with time. When reformers talk about providing all teachers with useful feedback following classroom observations or using the results of evaluation to individualize professional development for teachers, they are referring to “improvin’ it” strategies. If enough teachers improved their effectiveness, then the accumulated gains would boost the average effectiveness in the workforce.

Smart districts will do both, Jerald argues.

Professional development rarely improves teaching effectiveness and student learning, research shows. “The nation’s school systems spend billions of dollars annually on wasteful and ineffective professional development,” Jerald writes. Yet some forms of training have shown “substantial improvements in teaching and learning” in the last two years.

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  1. Gosh, using teacher effectiveness data to help teachers improve and not just to fire them.

    What a stunning concept! I approve unreservedly!

    Of course the implication is that currently teacher effectiveness data *isn’t* used to help teachers improve which is the obviously true.

    Otherwise schools of ed would have to demonstrate their value, rather then relying on law to limit entry to the teaching field thus making their degrees mandatory. School districts would have to discriminate between lousy schools of ed and good ed schools. Districts would also be tempted to hire away the teachers that demonstrate their effectiveness via that data although unions would do their best to dampen that excess of enthusiasm for teacher effectiveness.

    Still, Mr. Jerald doesn’t address, in his water-is-wet announcement, why there’s been no interest till now, if indeed there is any interest now among school districts, in using teacher effectiveness data for much of anything, bothering to collect teacher effectiveness data and not fighting tooth and nail to prevent the mandating of the collection of teacher effectiveness data.

    It’s that failure to analyze the reason why teacher effectiveness data is dealt with as if it’s an irrelevancy that justifies mandates such as NCLB and RttT. If you don’t understand the problem a hammer’s always a solution albeit not neccessarily a good solution. Still, even a hammer-solution’s better then sitting around doing nothing.