"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 09, 2009

What Makes Teachers Effective: A Primer for Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh is the Sanjay Gupta of education policy. She looks good and is not afraid to lie when it is in the interest of the corporate pimp she is working for at the time. And just like Gupta's intentional falsehoods about Michael Moore's research related to Sicko, the media and the pols have forgotten or just don't care about Kate's earlier indiscretions that involved using federal grant money to flood the media with propaganda aimed at promoting bonus pay for test scores and directed at ridding the nation of teachers with credentials in teaching from accredited teacher education programs.

At least Gupta offered a muffled half apology for part of his lie about Michael Moore, whereas Walsh has done nothing to atone for her US DOE sponsored propaganda campaign and the misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money that has never been repaid, despite the OIG's opinion:
The failure of these grantees to include the required disclaimer appears to have resulted in an improper expenditure of grant funds that should now be recovered.
Grant U215U030007-04 [$677,318], Oquirrh Institute and National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) (Appendix A, Item 1)
Walsh is still at it over at the "non-profit," NCTQ, except now she has access to the boundless billions from corporations that receive tax credits for helping Kate and her team in their attempts to bring down the teaching profession and the unions. Kate works tirelessly to load up urban schools with "teachers" who have a bachelors degree and have passed a test from the bogus outfit, ABCTE, that she help establish with $40 million in grants from, where else, US DOE. This is Kate's notion of "highly-qualified" teachers for poor children, a cheap supply of marginally-prepared test takers, themselves, who knows nothing about child development, teaching strategies, educational psychology, social justice issues, the history of education, or educational research.

The reason Kate is on my mind is that she is quoted in a WaPo article yesterday on Commandant Rhee's efforts to reduce the number of unqualifed teachers in the DC Schools. It seems that even though the number of highly-qualified teachers has risen this year, Rhee, and Walsh too, would just as soon have no teachers who are highly qualified. Instead of having teachers who have acquired state licensure, have a major or minor in the subject they teach, and have passed a state-approved test, Rhee sees no reason to be burdened by such credentialing:
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, a staunch supporter of No Child Left Behind, has nevertheless called for the law to be changed so that teachers are evaluated more on the basis of student performance than on credentials. "In our estimates, that is far more important than whether or not a teacher is highly qualified," said Dena Iverson, Rhee's spokeswoman.
If Rhee were chief administrator of a hospital, we could expect her, I would imagine, to be just as happy to have someone with no medical training treating the hospital's patients with a single approved treatment protocol, regardless of the illness and regardless of the ability of her replacement "doctors" to diagnose what was wrong with them. After all, there is a script for following the approved protocol, and if the worst happens and the patient dies, well then, it simply shows that the "doctor" was ineffective. Time to fire her and bring in another replacement. Those who are effective have living patients to offer evidence of their effectiveness, just as those effective teachers may be judged solely on how many survive the test.

Such crass, jaded, and ignorant conceptions of what constitutes teacher effectiveness are rampant among today's SEPs (Social Entrepreneurial Parasites), and Kate Walsh is no exception. Kate, Michelle, and their chums at TFA would be glad to turn over urban schools, where children need the most highly qualified teachers, to a supply of well-intentioned but ignorant temps or some desperate souls who have earned their teaching credential by passing an online test at ABCTE.

Walsh is quoted as an expert on teacher quality in the WaPo piece (remember that no one remembers her past lies), and offer this gem for the ages:
"I don't know anybody who could draw a direct correlation between being highly qualified and being effective."
Sadly, this demonstrates that Kate is still lying or that she is simply too ignorant to be quoted on any topic related to teaching. In either case, just for you, Kate, I have prepared a little cribsheet for the next time a WaPo reporter calls on your expert advice regarding teacher preparation or teacher effectiveness. Info is from the first chapter that offers somewhat of a lit review on teacher effectiveness--you don't even have to read the whole book, Kate! And pass this on to Mike Feinberg--he might learn something, too.

Stronge, James H. (2007). Qualities of Effective Teachers (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

Teacher Certification
  • Fully prepared and certified teachers have a greater impact on gains in student learning than do uncertified or provisionally certified teachers, especially with minority populations and in urban and rural settings (DarlingHammond, Berry, & Thoreson, 2001; Goe, 2002; Laczko-Kerr & Berliner, 2002; Qu & Becker, 2003).
  • Teacher certification status and teaching within one’s field are positively related to student outcomes (Hawk, Coble, & Swanson, 1985).
  • Teachers with certification of some kind (standard, alternative, or provisional) tend to have higher-achieving students than do teachers working without certification (Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000).

  • Students of teachers who hold standard certification in their subjects score 7 to 10 points higher on 12th grade math tests than do students of teachers with probationary, emergency, or no certification (Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000).
  • Some studies have demonstrated relationships between standard certification and teacher practices (e.g., hands-on learning, connections to student experiences) (Darling-Hammond, 2000). These teacher practices have been found to be effective in supporting student achievement, thus illustrating a possible indirect relationship between traditional certification and student achievement.
  • Teachers assigned to the area in which they are certified have been found to have more influence on student learning than uncertified teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2000b; Darling-Hammond, Berry, & Thoreson, 2001; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000; Hawk, Coble, & Swanson, 1985; Laczko-Kerr & Berliner, 2002). For example, in a study comparing certified teachers who were licensed to teach mathematics with those licensed in another area, students taught by teachers instructing in their licensed field had higher levels of achievement (Hawk et al., 1985).
Related Resources: Cavalluzzo, 2004; Darling-Hammond, 1996, 2000, 2001; DarlingHammond et al., 2001; Darling-Hammond et al., 2005; Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 2003; Dozier & Bertotti, 2000; Ferguson & Womack, 1993; Fetler, 1999; Fidler, 2002; Goe, 2002; Goldhaber & Anthony, 2004; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000; Hawk et al., 1985; Ingersoll, 2001; Laczko-Kerr & Berliner, 2002; Lilly, 1992; Mathews, 1999; Miller et al., 1998; Qu & Becker, 2003; Scherer, 2001; Stronge et al., 2005; Vandevoort et al., 2004; Wise, 2000.

Content Area Knowledge
  • Teachers with a major or minor in their content area are associated with higher student achievement, especially in the areas of secondary science and mathematics (Wenglinsky, 2000).
  • Students, teachers, principals, and school board members have all emphasized the importance of subject-matter knowledge in describing effective teaching (Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Johnson, 1997; National Association of Secondary School Principals [NASSP], 1997; Peart & Campbell, 1999).
  • The ability to convey content to students in a way that they can grasp, use, and remember is important, but it is not necessarily related to additional teacher knowledge or coursework in the content area (Begle, 1979; Monk, 1994; Monk & King, 1994).
  • Content-area preparation is positively related to student achievement within specific subjects, especially in mathematics (Hawk et al., 1985; Wenglinsky, 2002) and science (Druva & Anderson, 1983).
  • Several studies have illustrated that teachers with greater subject-matter knowledge tend to ask higher-level questions, involve students in the lessons, and allow more student-directed activities (Wenglinsky, 2000, 2002).
Related Resources: Berliner, 1986; Blair, 2000; Brookhart & Loadman, 1992; Carlsen, 1987; Carlsen & Wilson, 1988; Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Darling-Hammond, 1996, 2000; Darling-Hammond et al., 2001; Druva & Anderson, 1983; Ferguson & Womack, 1993; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000; Hill et al., 2005; Holt-Reynolds, 1999; Johnson, 1997; Mitchell, 1998; Monk & King, 1994; NASSP, 1997; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, n.d.; Peart & Campbell, 1999; Rowan et al., 1997; Shellard & Protheroe, 2000; Shulman, 1987; Traina, 1999; Wenglinsky, 2000, 2002.

Teaching Experience
Experienced teachers have increased depth of understanding of the content and how to teach and apply it (Covino & Iwanicki, 1996). Additionally, experienced teachers are more effective with students due to their use of a wider variety of strategies (Glass, 2001). One study found that “schools with more experienced and more highly educated mathematics teachers tended to have higher achieving students” (Fetler, 1999, p. 9). This quality indicator does not necessarily mean that more years are better. Based on data from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, Sanders and Rivers (1996) found that teachers’ effectiveness increased through the first seven years of teaching and became flat by around year 10. (Note: The minimal teaching experience in Sanders’ original work was three years.)

If students are to learn, they need to feel comfortable in their instructional environment. In that respect, the personal connection that an educator makes with students assists in creating a trusting and respectful relationship (Marzano, Pickering, & McTighe, 1993; McBer, 2000). The ability to relate to students and convey a sense that they are valued and that the teacher wants them to be there is vital (Haberman, 1995a). Effective teachers have been described as caring, enthusiastic, motivated, fair, respectful, reflective, and dedicated individuals with a sense of humor who interact well with students and colleagues (Black & Howard-Jones, 2000; Delaney, 1954; National Association of Secondary School Principals [NASSP], 1997; Peart & Campbell, 1999). In brief, teachers’ effect on student learning is increased when students are taught by well-prepared professionals who integrate their knowledge of instruction with a deep sense of caring about the individual students they teach. As Sizer (1999) puts it, “We cannot teach students well if we do not know them well” (p. 6).

From Stronge, James H. (2006) Teacher Quality Index : A Protocol for Teacher Selection.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2006.
Research supports the following findings related to teacher experience:
  • Teachers with more experience tend to show better planning skills, including a more hierarchical and organized structure in the presentation of their material (Borko & Livingston, 1989; Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Jay, 2002; Yildirim, 2001).

  • Effective experienced teachers are better able to apply a range of teaching strategies, and they demonstrate more depth and differentiation in learning activities (Covino & Iwanicki, 1996).
  • Experienced teachers tend to know and understand their students’ learning needs, learning styles, prerequisite skills, and interests better than beginners do (Borko & Livingston, 1989; Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Jay, 2002).
  • The classrooms of more experienced teachers are better organized around routines and plans for handling problems than are those of novices (Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Cruickshank & Haefele, 2001).
  • Teachers with more than three years of experience are more effective than those with three years or fewer (Nye, Konstantopoulos, & Hedges, 2004), but these differences seem to level off after five to eight years (DarlingHammond, 2000; Scherer, 2001).
  • Teacher expertise as defined by experience (as well as education and scores on licensing exams) accounts for as much as 40 percent of the variation in student achievement, which is more than race and socioeconomic status (Ferguson, 1991; Virshup, 1997).
  • Schools with more beginning teachers tend to have lower student achievement (Betts, Rueben, & Danenberg, 2000; Fetler, 1999; Goe, 2002), and schools with student performance in the lowest quartile have more inexperienced teachers than those schools with student performance in the highest quartile (Esch et al., 2005). Related Resources: Betts, Rueben, & Danenberg, 2000; Borko & Livingston, 1989; Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Cruickshank & Haefele, 2001; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Education Review Office, 1998; Esch et al., 2005; Fetler, 1999; Goe, 2002; Haycock, 2000, 2003; Jay, 2002; Kerrins & Cushing, 1998; Neilsen, 1999; Nye et al., 2004; Scherer, 2001; Tell, 2001; Virshup, 1997; Yildirim, 2001.
Stronge, James H. (2007). Qualities of Effective Teachers (2nd Edition).
Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

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