Tuesday March 9, 2010 | CMS Teacher Effectiveness Study

March 8, 2010 at 10:08 am | Posted in Coming Up | 13 Comments

Late last month, Harvard University’s Center for Educational Policy Research released a study about teacher effectiveness in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. We’ll talk with some of the researchers who conducted the Harvard study to discuss the findings, how they may affect CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman’s plans to implement a “pay for performance” program for teachers and about teacher recruitment and retention.
Sarah Glover
– Exec. Director, Strategic Data Project, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University
Sarah Cohodes – Research Manager, Strategic Data Project, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University
Robert Avossa – Chief Accountability Officer, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

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  1. I read the results of the teacher performance analysis and came to a striking conclusion. If you combine the effects of all four of the teacher variables (pick the teachers from the better universities, pick the teachers with high CMS evaluations, eliminate mid-year teachers, and require advanced degrees or Natioanal Board Certificates) there is not enough effect to close the racial gap. I was discouraged and disappointed that the consultants did not state this important conclusion. Let me say it again in simpler words. According to the data, you can manipulate the teachers all you want and it will not close the racial gap, which is a major objective of CMS.

    • Although, one can not simply add up the different factors considering how the study was done, you are absolutely right with your comments.
      The quality of our teachers is very important, but so are other factors as for example to provide our students with what they need for their lives, what is relevant for their goals and their future lives to reduce the drop out rate of some 35% in high school. Things like Individualized Education Plans, etc.
      Also, we need to start treating our teachers as professionals if we want them to act and be effective as such. We need to empower them like the were in the past when one teacher successfully handled 40 or more students in a classroom. We need to give the teachers the technology the need to prepare their students for the real world, not old, often not working technology. We need to understand that money is a motivating factor but not the most important for teachers. After all, they are not sales people.
      Professionals are not loaded with non-teaching tasks like standing for hours in front of schools or in hallways to perform security duties and many other meaningless admin work. Nobody would expect or get this from members of a law firm or judges in Courts or other government functions, etc.
      Opionion surveys should be discussed and acted upon, etc.

  2. I think teachers need to go where they are told to… When is CMS going to step up to the plate and get it done!

  3. As a CMS parent, I’ve attended several recent CMS Strategic Planning Workshops.

    Two things that stand out for me:

    1. CMS focuses too much on ‘college prep’ and not enough on job preparation for those who may not be suited for college.
    Focusing on later college performance is not going to help us cure any dropout rates or help current students. What about trade education before 10th grade?

    2. How will Pay for Performance give a fair evaluation of ALL staff in contact with a student through the day not just the teachers associated with standardized tests?
    Quality of home life has more effect on student performance than which particular teacher they have.
    Also, will low-seniority teachers assigned to poor scoring schools automatically be paid less?
    Other than standardized scores, how will other factors be considered in ‘teacher effectiveness’?

    • I can only agree. We need to stop assuming that ‘One Shoe fits all’. Let’s consider what other countries do with great success and minimal drop-out rates. Not everyone wants to become a scientist or professor…

  4. As a CMS teacher, I wonder when I’ll be qualified enough to teach. Not only do I have 5 years’ experience teaching my subject, but I have an undergraduate and Master’s degree in the subject itself. I am now in my third year of classes at UNCC to earn my certification. I am observed constantly, each time with excellent results. However, I hear from the study that I’m not effective after three years and won’t be “valuable” to my employers unless I pay for National Board Certification and go through a very difficult process to prove what a good teacher I am. What is it going to take? I also teach in a high-poverty school — and I resent the implication that I’m not a strong teacher.

  5. Mike, I was on hold when time ran out on the show. I am a CMS parent of three students (one with a learning disablity). Peter Gorman announced months ago that the graduation rate from CMS is about 67%; which is inline with national averages.

    Firstly, I consider that number the single most important threat to the long-term viability of the status of the United States as a global power. We can’t be a global power with one-third of our kids not even graduating from high school.

    Secondly, the white elephant in the room, that no one is addressing is parental involvement. My wife and I spend two to three hours EVERY night working with our kids on homework, projects, discussions, and tutoring our Learning Diabled daughter.

    Our kids have been in several different schools in CMS, and I assure you that they can learn in any environment that is safe and open. The schools that are underperforming are typically in high poverty areas; often those parents are working at night, single parents, or they themselves are unaware of the rigors required to succeed in school. Any teacher or administrator in one of those schools is “swimming upstream” to say the least.

    I think the performance gap speaks more to the inequity that has developed in our country as a whole.


    • John:”We can’t be a global power with one-third of our kids not even graduating from high school.”

      The USA won’t be a global power much longer anyhow with the 3rd world demographics that are beginning to predominate in many American states and regions.

      This definitely has a racial/ethnic component, since the vast majority of HS dropouts are African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, etc.

  6. Great questions, Mike. However, much did not get covered that is most relevant to why our students are not getting the education they deserve and why we have not been able to improve the achievement gaps. Here are some examples for misleading messages in the context of the Havard study:

    * Havard researchers pointed out multiple times that their findings are only DIAGNOSTIC, not CAUSAL – Unfortunatly, that was this not made clear in your broadcast. – (Is it not interesting, that we do not have more after 18 months of research and lots of CMS manpower?)

    * Master and PhD degrees supposedly make no difference – that is possibly true for teachers in 4th to 8th grade classes. What about high school teachers? – Why was this not clarified? – Results for 4th to 8th grade are already used as if valid for all grades!

    * Over 200 Teach for America teachers – not large enough numbers? 41 of which in study that did not show significant differences … – Why was the fact that TFA-teachers are NOT better performing teachers discounted and greyed out on the Havard study chart? Because, CMS internal researchers have opposing findings?

    * Would have been great if you, Mike, had followed up on the increasing Value-Add question concerning the flattening of the curve. – How much ongoing growth can a Tiger Woods show annually after having reached his level of mastery. Does it mean, he is no longer valuable for Golf or does it mean we should employ rather beginners.) –
    By the way, great observation, Mike, concering contradictions you pointed out concerning the first FLAT year vs. the greatest growth in the first 3 years of teaching.

    * Concerning the correlation between Undergraduate degrees from certain colleges versus others and related to the ‘value-add measurement’ it was not mentioned in the broadcast that the researchers did not distinguish whether or not that Undergrade studies related to the subject the teachers actually taught.

    * Why did the extremely high turn-over rate of teachers in CMS not come up? – For example, that less than one Third of teachers stay at the same school over a 5-year time frame. – An indicater of failed people management? – What about the teacher satisfaction survey results?

    * In the context of pay for performance, why are we not including the recent findings in a survey of 40,000 teachers, who stated that pay is not the most important factor, actually only somewhere in the middle?

    I could go on and on about the shortcomings of how we approach our problems and that we ignore the real reasons for our problems. –
    Why not include teachers in such discussions or representatives of their professional organizations? Are they not professionals who can speak for themselves – possibly can point out the real problems why our schools do not perform better? – Answers to questions like the ones related to Natiional Certification are very obvious if you ask one who has done it. The same applies to the college education. Is it not interesting that one of the key Harvard researchers prided herself that she has only a Bachelor degree… – Much more to cover, but…

    Thanks for getting involved in that so important matter. Richard’s point really stresses the fact that there is a long way between a diagnostic data study and the real world of mismanagement!

    Mike, do you not feel like there is a lot missing if you look at the contents and outcomes of this morning’s hour? Your questions had been great, but your politeness kept you from following up on the non-answers, I guess.

    • Hans,

      Many good points…I missed part of the discussion regarding the “value add measurement”…I find it difficult to imagine that many teachers are coming out of top tier schools to teach given the $50K annual tuition bills at some of those schools.

  7. We need to start technical high-schools in every U.S. state similar to how they do in Europe and elsewhere, particularly Germany.

    The best thing we could do to revive the economy is to train more workers in PRACTICAL fields in the last two years of a technical high school followed by a two year apprenticeship or community college. Electricians, plumbers, electrical engineers, forestry experts, small farmers, carpentry, livestock management, things of that sort.

    We must realize that not every child is fit to attend college in order to major in a fluffy non-practical field (I would include myself in that) – instead of going to college to study linguistics I wish I would’ve had better opportunities and guidance to study agriculture, forestry, soil science, or something PRACTICAL and USEFUL like that instead.

    • Not only in Germany, many other countries have such path ways that leave the option for academic training open. Since students know whatfor they learn, they are motivated and in turn the drop-out rate is minimal.

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