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Study: Educators’ Abilities Unlikely to Change
posted by: Ruthie | March 12, 2013, 06:52 PM   

According to a new study by the Center on Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness at the University of Virginia, researchers can pinpoint teacher effectiveness based on data from the early stages of their careers. The data raises serious questions about a teacher's ability to improve after a few years in the classroom.

Researchers analyzed teaching records from the New York City and state education departments, as well as data on the teachers' students, including achievement-test results in math and English, gender, ethnicity, home language, poverty, special education statues, and absences and suspensions. The research compared value-added effectiveness in years 1-2 of teaching, with that of years 3-5. Ideally, the data would give a fair look at performance during the first year of teaching and the third year teaching to get a perspective on changes and trends.

Results showed that teachers who were initially in the highest quintile, remained there for all five years. However, for teachers who started off as ineffective, many were likely to become at least average at the end of five years. "Even if you're not going to make lots of mistakes, you will make some," said Tim Sass, an economics and public-policy research professor at Georgia State University. The data shows that while progress is being made, teachers fall into distinct patterns of performance.

Steven Glazerman, a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, who has extensively studied value-added measures of teacher effectiveness, said the study both confirms and raises some "interesting questions" about the commonly held belief that new teachers improve rapidly in their first year.

Glazerman cautioned that because the study only uses data on new teachers who continued to teach 4th and 5th grades for at least five years, it leaves out a significant number of teachers who move to a different grade or school system. "What's hard to know about, but what fascinates me in what's exposed by this paper, is the fact that such a large percentage of teachers cycle in and out of tested grades. That makes it very difficult to study them using value-added measures."

A follow up study is underway to bring more clarity to the findings. Obviously, while not all teachers can fall into clear categories, exploring if educators are able to improve is important data for the future of education reform.

In your experience, do teachers tend to maintain the same performance? Do you think that new teachers can make strides in performance over time?
Comment below. 

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