Unsubstantiated wishes and beliefs mar Public Impact report
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 12, 2013) – A recent report from Public Impact calls for redesigned teacher roles to extend the reach of "excellent" teachers to more students through a variety of structural school changes. The report claims to provide a scalable way to increase teacher pay and planning time within current school budgets. Despite its assertions, an academic review released today finds the report short on evidence to support either its premises or recommendations.
An Opportunity Culture for All: Making teaching a highly paid, high-impact profession, authored by Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel, calls for a sweeping restructuring of the teaching profession. Dr. Patricia Hinchey, an education professor at Penn State University who has written extensively on teaching and teacher assessment, reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The report is based on two unsupported premises: (1) that only one in four teachers is good enough to help close achievement gaps, and (2) that current efforts to recruit and retain excellent teachers are inadequate. The authors call for changes to the teaching profession to increase the reach of excellent teachers through new types of team-based teaching positions, increased use of paraprofessionals, and increased reliance on technology.
It also suggests that teacher salaries might rise because of savings from restructured staffing and shifting of other resources. Increased teacher pay would be linked to a variety of arrangements that increased the number of students a teacher was accountable for.
In her review, Hinchey, finds that the report targets teacher excellence, but it offers no specific means of identifying and assessing that quality. The report does implicitly define excellent teachers as those who produce greater gains in student achievement based on test scores. It also assumes that teachers alone can close the achievement gap, despite evidence that outside factors have a far greater impact on student achievement than in-school factors.
The review highlights that no evidence was presented to ground the report's assertions and projections.
In addition, Hinchey finds that the report fails to acknowledge existing literature that contradicts many of its claims regarding teacher quality, promised gains in student achievement, or large increases in teacher pay. She also calls attention to the lack of references to support the report's heavy reliance on technology.
"Overall, the proposal is based on unsupported assumptions, assertions and projections—wishes and beliefs that if the approach were put into practice, it would somehow play out to the benefit of students," Hinchey concludes. "Lacking an empirical base, the report is not a useful guide for policy."
Find this Think Twice review on the Great Lakes Center website:
Find An Opportunity Culture for All: Making teaching a highly paid, high-impact profession on the web: http://opportunityculture.org/an-opportunity-culture-for-all/
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.
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