Releasing teacher data

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-16-2005
Releasing teacher data
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 9:07am
U.S. schools chief endorses release of teacher data
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says parents have a right to know how effective teachers are at raising student test scores. "What is there to hide?" he says.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective, endorsing the public release of information about how well individual teachers fare at raising their students' test scores.

"What's there to hide?" Duncan said in an interview one day after The Times published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest school system. "In education, we've been scared to talk about success."

Duncan's comments mark the first time the Obama administration has expressed support for a public airing of information about teacher performance — a move that is sure to fan the already fierce debate over how to better evaluate teachers.

Spurred by the administration, school districts around the country have moved to adopt "value added" measures, a statistical approach that relies on standardized test scores to measure student learning. Critics, including many teachers unions and some policy experts, say the method is based on flawed tests that don't measure the more intangible benefits of good teaching and lead to a narrow curriculum. In Los Angeles, the teachers union has called public disclosure of the results "dangerous" and "irresponsible."

Duncan said public disclosure of the value-added results would allow school systems to identify teachers who are doing things right.

"We can't do enough to recognize them, reward them, but — most importantly — to learn from them," he said.

California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss also weighed in Monday, saying that the state will encourage districts to develop and release value-added scores for teachers.

"Publishing this data is not about demonizing teachers," Reiss said. "It's going to create a more market-driven approach to results."

Reiss said the data would give administrators a better idea of which instructors need professional development. It's unclear how quickly a statewide value-added system could be built, but Reiss said districts, especially the larger ones, should be able to move quickly.

"The data is there," Reiss said.

The comments from Reiss, appointed by a Republican governor, and Duncan, appointed by a Democratic president, show how the use of data for teacher accountability has become a bipartisan issue.

The value-added method tracks a student's performance on standardized tests year after year. Because the student's performance is measured against his or her own record, the method adjusts for many of the differences among students that teachers have no control over.

The Times used the approach to analyze seven years of test scores in math and English to estimate the impact individual elementary school teachers had on their students. The analysis found huge disparities among teachers, sometimes just down the hall from one another. Students with the most effective teachers consistently made huge strides in a single year, despite challenges such as poverty or limited English skills.

Researchers have consistently found that within a school, teacher effectiveness is the single most important factor in a child's ability to learn. But across the country, parents have no access to objective information about teacher effectiveness, and many districts have opted to ignore the data.

Later this month, The Times will publish a database of more than 6,000 elementary school teachers ranked by their ability to improve students' scores on standardized tests, marking the first time such information had been released publicly. Already, roughly 700 teachers have requested and received their scores, enabling them to comment before publication.,0,4846188.story

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2009
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 9:15am

It depends on how they want to do it. Would it be releasing an average (so little Johnny who screwed around all year and didn't do a darn thing can ruin the teacher's average) or would it be data for individual students and their improvement from one year to the next? Would it include the amount of time that student was actually present in the teacher's class before the tests were performed? Would it include information on whether the student was an ELL and if so, how long have they been ELL? Would it include whether a student was in special education and whether they met their IEP goals or would it be based on their performance on the test, which may not correspond to the IEP goals?

Edited 8/17/2010 9:17 am ET by shannon.fannon
Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 12:23pm
I agree with all you said and have some to add:
Would rate a teacher on how the students in that given year improved, or would it compare those students to a different class year? Would researchers make sure that the measures were valid and reliable? Would Teacher A, who haa 2 honors classes, be compared to Teacher B who has none?
I have no issue with a fair and just release, but a hasty one is not something I favor.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2009
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 12:27pm

Those are good ones, too.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the idea would be to just average out the test scores per classroom and I would absolutely fight that. However, if it was done with some thought and took into consideration all of the factors that we listed (and I'm sure there are more), I would be okay with that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2007
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 1:03pm

I think that's how many people think - gimme an index, boil it down for me, I just need the bottom line.

I think one of the challenges is that you could have a teacher get a classroom with 80% of students two grades behind on reading.

Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Tue, 08-17-2010 - 1:49pm
I am on my districts "Response to Intervention" team. Part of that is targeting students who are not succeeding with research based best practices in the classroom before getting extra help. When this goes into effect, the data (intervention used, frequency and duration) should also be data to help teachers prove their worth.