Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Public accountability and teacher effectiveness

How effective are teachers and administrators?

This week the New York Times and WNYC published reports that identified by name the ratings of teachers in New York City schools. Here's an example from PS 113 in New York.

The website where these ratings are displayed provides a brief explanation:

The ratings on this page reflect the city’s effort to isolate the effect of individual teachers on student performance. In this case, the measurement is based on math and English scores on New York State standardized tests. Each teacher was assigned an “expected” score based on the past performance and demographics of his or her students. This expected score is then compared to the students’ actual test results. The difference is considered the “value added” by the teacher.

Here is a fuller explanation of the system.

In Michigan beginning this year every teacher will receive a rating ranging from effective to ineffective.

Last year building administrators in Michigan received a similar rating.  Here you can download an Excel file that lists the ratings of principals by district. Statewide 32% of principals were highly effective, 65% were effective, and 1.87% were ineffective. 

In the Michigan School Code, Section 1249a, if a student has been assigned to a teacher who has received two evaluations in a row that identifies him or her as ineffective, parents are required to be notified. The name of the teacher is required to be disclosed.

Will this kind of public disclosure be an effective tool in improving the quality of our public schools?

I believe in being accountable. I believe that school administrators and teachers have a responsibility to be as effective as they can be.

I just question whether whether the public "outing" of teachers and administrators will ultimately lead to improved schools. 

I can understand that parents want to know who is a good teacher. After all I would want my child with the best teacher possible.

However, I wonder if these ratings really provide parents with that information. 

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