I Got Schooled – Practice #1 – Effective teachers

I Got Schooled Practice #1 – Effective teachers – hiring good and dropping poor

Through his MNS Foundation, Shyamalan spent five years studying what is succeeding in closing the education gap that depended only on factors inside the classroom itself and that were scalable. He discovered closing the achievement gap can’t be figured out by examining just any single practice by itself; five things must be implemented together to have any substantive effect.

Shyamalan uncovers five factors present in schools he found were significantly closing the education gap for inner city children and children of color. He provides just tons of example schools, clinical studies, data and statistics, detailing each of these five factors.

These posts are highlights for each of these five factors for folks who might feel they are too busy to read the whole book … and strongly whet your appetite for doing so. The five factors are:

  • Effective teachers – dropping poor, hiring good
  • Right balance of leadership
  • Feedback that is timely and consistent
  • Smaller schools
  • More time in school

EFFECTIVE TEACHERS – dropping poor, hiring good

  • Are the engine that make schools run
  • Not all teachers perform equally (as do neither all salesmen, lawyers, accountants, basketball players, school principals, …)
  • Get the least effective teachers out of classrooms
  • You can discover who underperformers are
  • National studies find just 2% of teachers are rated unsatisfactory
  • Teachers in the middle, performance-wise, may be the most important factor for scaling success to 132,656 K-12 schools nationwide in 2010
  • One year with a great teacher is worth $20,000 in lifetime earnings for every student in that class
  • The effects of poor teachers in student learning outweighs the benefits provided by the good ones
  • Someone who barely graduated from Nowhere State is just as likely to be a great teacher as someone with a Summa Cum Laude from Harvard
  • Until you see them teach, you are picking blind; seeing them teach takes 2 to 3 years
  • After 2-3 years, tenure locks both good and bad teachers in place
  • Release procedures can take  300 days and cost $250,000, and so becomes too much trouble to take on
  • By replacing just 5 to 8% of the least effective teachers with average teachers, student overall achievement scores would rise to those of Canada or Finland
  • There is no evidence we can improve teachers’ performance by giving them bonuses or sending them to graduate school
  • Reliable tools must be used to determine teacher competence and effectiveness
  • Actual-versus-expected student progress can be a valid rating system (i.e., Value Added Method – VAM)
  • But … “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”  Voltaire
  • Hence the teacher evaluation problem: “Until someone comes up with a perfect tool for judging teachers, one that judges no teacher unfairly, there’s no point in using anything.”
  • If no one can be fired without a “fair” evaluation, and a fair evaluation needs to be error-free, then no one can be fired.
  • Multiple tests, as designed by the Measures of Effective Teaching project (MET),  are providing greater reliability and validity to teacher evaluation (see the MET January 2013 final report)
  • Good news: an inner city student having a great teacher for four years in a row will close the gap separating her from her suburban counterpart, without doing anything else
  • Bad news: three great teachers won’t make up for one poor one
  • The ratio of great teachers to poor teachers is nowhere near three-to-one
  • For schools on the wrong side of the achievement gap, these “roadblock” teachers effectively trap students
  • Eliminating roadblock teachers is a necessary first step toward closing America’s achievement gap, but it’s not sufficient in and of itself. “You can’t fire your way to excellence.”
  • Hiring good teachers and releasing bad ones is a scalable practice

Next up: The right balance of leadership

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