Think Twice: Measures of Effective Teaching
The Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project was designed to help teachers and school systems close the gap between their expectations for effective teaching and what is actually happening in classrooms. The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Measures of Effective Teaching project researchers collected data on five different measures of effective teaching:
- Student achievement gains on state standardized tests and supplemental tests.
- Classroom observations and teacher reflections.
- Teachers' pedagogical content knowledge.
- Student perceptions of the classroom instructional environment.
- Teachers' perceptions of working conditions and support at their schools.
The National Education Policy Center, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, completed four reviews of the MET Project.
You can also find the reviews on the NEPC website.
Jesse Rothstein from the University of California Berkeley, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, reviewed the initial report of the MET Project for the Think Twice think tank review project. Rothstein's analysis found that the initial report drew conclusions that are not supported by its own facts, with some data in the report pointing "in the opposite direction" from what is indicated in its "poorly-supported" conclusions. Rothstein also found that the MET project relies heavily on standardized test scores and student surveys, which are insufficient measures of teacher effectiveness, as teachers facing high-stakes testing will emphasize skills and topics geared toward raising test scores.
Gathering Feedback for Teaching: Combining High-Quality Observation with Student Surveys and Achievement Gains
Cassandra Guarino, Indiana University, and Brian Stacy, a doctoral student at Michigan State University, reviewed the project’s second report. The second report of the MET Project focuses on analyzing ratings of classroom observations using a variety of observation instruments. Guarino and Stacy are part of the Value-Added Measurement Project at Michigan State University. The reviewers found that the project makes important contribution to the research base and raises some very important questions for policymakers. Guarino and Stacy question the emphasis placed on validating classroom observations with test score gains; it is possible that neither type of measure used in isolation captures a teacher’s contribution to all the useful skills that students learn in schools. Guarino and Stacy raise several questions about the study: 1) given the efforts required to train classroom observers, can districts implement a classroom-evaluation system that creates a highly reliable measure? 2) do classroom observations pick up non-cognitive skills? 3) Can the feedback improve teaching effectiveness in a meaningful way?
Eric M. Camburn, University of Wisconsin Madison, reviewed Asking Students about Teaching. This report, also a part of the MET Project, seeks to establish that student surveys provide valid evidence usable to evaluate teachers. In his review, Camburn agrees that student surveys are potentially useful and that the report “contains many practical pieces of advice that are sensible and worth putting into practice.” However, he cautions that the report’s claims of a strong relationship between student survey results and teacher effectiveness are not supported by evidence in the report itself
Jesse Rothstein, University of California Berkeley, and William Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, review two of the final research papers dealing with the impact of student assignment on teacher evaluations and how teacher evaluation measures are best combined. The review concluded that the students and teachers picked for the study were not representative of their schools and there was also a great deal of noncompliance with the experiment, as only a quarter to two-thirds of the students were taught by the teacher they were assigned to. Rothstein and Mathis conclude, "While the Gates MET study has brought an unprecedented vigor and intensity to teacher evaluation research, even its masses of data do not settle disagreements about what makes an effective teacher."
Other Related Links
- ICPSR - Measures of Effective Teaching: Longitudinal Database
- IES: What Works Clearninghouse: "Have We Identified Effective Teachers? Validating Measures of Effective Teaching Using Random Assignment"
- Shanker Institute: Premises, Presentation And Predetermination In The Gates MET Study
- Larry Ferlazzo's Website of the Day: The Best of Posts On Gates' Final MET "Effective Teaching" Report
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