Measures of effective teaching

The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is conducting research in to measuring and improving the effectiveness of teachers. They recently released some early findings which show:

  • First, in every grade and subject we studied, a teacher’s past success in raising student achievement on state tests (that is, his or her value-added) is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do so again.
  • Second, the teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests also tend to help students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.
  • Third, the average student knows effective teaching when he or she experiences it.
  • Fourth, valid feedback need not be limited to test scores alone. By combining different sources of data, it is possible to provide diagnostic, targeted feedback to teachers who are eager to improve.

One of their key findings is that student feedback is critical. They have some very interesting tables of results showing the difference in responses from students in schools at the 25th percentile and students at the 75th percentile, and the results are compelling.

What are the key points here?

  • Create an environment where teachers are free to innovate and eager to improve, without fear of retribution.
  • Listen to the student voice – sample regularly and analyse the data, both at class level and school-wide.
  • Assessment data is a key element of showing effective teaching. Teachers who produce better achievement tend to score better on all measures of teacher performance.

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