Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Teacher lottery

Interesting summary on Kane's Work on teacher effectiveness in the Harvard Review. I think the most interesting evidence found in the article is that:

  • Kane and his coauthors found that schools can gain a fairly clear picture of a teacher’s effectiveness in the first two or three years. Beyond that point, the returns on experience—as teachers improve with practice—begin to diminish. “You’d expect the distribution of teacher effectiveness to get tighter as the years pass,” Kane says. “But we see the opposite. There’s a tendency for the more effective teachers to get better faster, while the weaker teachers don’t catch up.”

I am fascinated with this incredibly wide variation in teacher performance. The reason for the phenomenon above is that no one gets fired and everyone gets the same raise each year. So poor performers really have no incentive to improve. They can just continue to muddle through in their permanent state of in-house retirement.
Meanwhile, the many teachers who care continue to improve their teaching and continue to look for ways to reach more students and create more student success.

So the system will continue to harbor this wide division of teacher performance and education becomes a lottery – if you get the great, caring teachers you win – if not, you lose……for life.

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