The Blog with the Search Engine for Statistics

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Teacher Quality Statistics

"Teacher Quality" reports and statistics I find relate teacher quality to student test scores. (Heck, hand kids the answers and you'll be a brilliant teacher.) That gives these so called "Teacher Quality" reports a failing grade in my eyes - with or without the numerous "value-added" qualities incorporated into the results. And guess why NY went from a "D" to a "C" in the latest Teacher Quality reports? Because they tied teacher/student testing more closely together.

We've lost education inside of institutionalism. Using standardized testing to judge a child's knowledge is archaic and detrimental to true education. Using standardized testing to test teachers is just a continuation of taking the easy way out instead of being innovative. But, regardless of my opinion, robot-like testing isn't going away, and teacher quality is a highly controversial and hot political issue. I glaze over these reports because I think they're a farce, but I think many of you would be interested in knowing where to find the actual studies on "Quality Teaching" that are running amuck in the headlines.

When a new study comes out, the source, or some relationship to the source, is usually quoted in the article. Sometimes the source is vague, such as "a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation." Gee thanks. Do you KNOW how many different studies they've funded? I don't know either, but all their financial reports are online if you want to dig through. While you're at it, you can do a search for "teacher quality" on their website and get some useful reports. However, their pet MET (Methods of Effective Teaching) project is intertwined with recent teacher quality reports.

At least the Washington Examiner in their "Teacher Quality Study Ranks NY 13th Among States" article was nice enough to lead readers to the National Council of Teacher Quality website with a link at the end of the article. However, as an article in the magazine Governing points out, data is too often collected, but not shared.

Let's start with the National Council of Teacher Quality. Their purpose is to increase the number of effective teachers, and they are "committed to lending transparency and increasing public awareness about the four sets of institutions that have the greatest impact on teacher quality: states, teacher preparation programs, school districts and teachers unions" without partisanship getting in the way. There's about 50 different agencies that fund the Council. This is the organization that the press is getting data from.

The 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook has all the juicy data on why NY is 13th and how states have failed to make much progress. The National Council of Teachers seem to like the letter "C." It's safe. It's average. It's the grade most states (teachers) got. I bet Tennessee is loving the fact its at the top of the list and New York isn't. This Yearbook report is the report that all the Teacher Quality bashing articles floating around this mid-January 2012 are referring to. My beef? (Sorry vegetarian daughters.) My beef is that this report is on teacher quality inclusive of school and state policy changes, yet the headlines floating around tout teacher quality, with little or no mention of the extreme impact that school policies have on the final grade for teacher quality. Kids get misjudged by things that aren't seen all the time too, so I do feel for the teachers and states. And that is why it is so important that we know WHERE these "grades" for teacher quality are coming from when we start reading headlines about teacher quality. At least then you're armed with information on why these headlines and studies are a farce.

A very helpful tool on the Teacher Quality Council website is a place where You can build a custom report based on state, district, poverty levels, unions and bargaining, tenure, and all kinds of neat little variables.

Now let's look at the Data Quality Campaign and see what they have to offer for Teacher Quality statistics. Their purpose is to use the data to promote student achievement, and they have a strong focus on longitudinal studies. Their list of funding sources isn't as long as the Council on Teacher Quality, but Pew Research and the Gates are involved. You'll find charts that show which states are using the data they have, and which aren't and lots of suggestions on how data can and should be used. If you're interested in data implementation, data warehouses, and data coordinating efforts, then you'll be interested in the Data Quality Campaign website. But, if you just want straight-forward teacher quality information, you can skip the Quality Campaign website. Going to the Gates' foundation College Ready Education topic page gives you links to more useful teacher quality articles pdf style.

If you're bored, you can always sift through's website results for "teacher quality", or the results from the search engine on this blog (which I'm currently updating). The National Education Association has almost 30,000 results for teacher quality, but Ed Week had a sparse showing of articles in a search for teacher quality, the articles were even sparser for the search term at the Association for American Educators' website.

The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality reports itself as a national resource for data with a goal to help the schools with the highest poverty rates and lowest performance rate. They have a database on State Teacher Evaluation Policies ,a bunch of interactive tools for evaluation that some of you might find useful, and what looks like to be a nice research library for data and research.

Of course, all this data and research is for the grants. It's always nice to read an article about small-town grant winners from Teacher Quality programs like those in Cleveland, TN who can now forge ahead in biotech. But more common are the articles bemoaning teacher quality. NBC's article on New York's faring in the quality test states that no state got an A. Doesn't that say something about the teacher?


What Should I Do May 28, 2012 at 4:12 AM  

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Thanks for sharing..

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Mom of six kids (30, 27, 25, 22, 21, 13) in a far-from-average-statistics family. Freelance SEO Content Writer on the side. If I can help you in any way, shoot me a virtual letter at writerightforyou at gmail dot com.

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