Monday, May 03, 2010

In the News

This article caught my eye.

Experience Doesn’t Teach

....wide body of research shows that on average, teaching experience beyond three years contributes little or nothing to student learning. In fact, according to a review of the research literature by Stanford economist Eric Hanushek, only 41 percent of “high-quality” estimates—analyses that account for prior student proficiency—could distinguish any relationship between the amount of time a teacher has spent in the classroom and his or her effectiveness....

The results of a study by Hanushek, Steven Rivkin, and John Kaine published in Econometrica, one of the world’s most prestigious economics journals,.... found that the teacher to whom a child gets assigned is the main school-based factor determining the size of his test-score gains during a given year. Seeking to identify the characteristics of the most effective teachers, they found that experience and credentials accounted for only about 2 percent of a teacher’s contribution to a student’s test-score gains.

....Since the number of years teachers spend in the classroom hardly explains why some of their students show lots of progress and others show none at all, it makes almost no sense to decide, entirely based on seniority, whom to let go and whom to retain.

.....A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Brian Jacob and Lars Lefgren found that principals are quite good at identifying the best and worst teachers in their schools. Just as other scholars have, Jacob and Lefgren found that teacher experience was unrelated to the size of student test-score gains. However, principals’ subjective rankings of their teachers correlated well with measures of teachers’ influence on student scores. Principals struggled to distinguish one moderately effective teacher from another, but they could accurately identify the best and worst teachers in their schools..

I hardily support the end of teacher tenure. It's one of the many reasons we've opted out of the public school system. Too many good teachers are let go while really bad teachers keep their jobs.

Even if my children do not go to public school, my tax dollars do. I like to see them used well.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education


Elisa said...

I homeschooled for 5 years before enrolling my daughter into the local high school for subjects I could not teach.

In Colorado we are on the verge of passing SB 191, the Educator Effectiveness bill that will be used to determine which teachers and principals are the most effective based on multiple measures.

Colorado citizens can sign the citizen petition at

After enrolling my daughter, two of the most effective teachers were let go. This bill should protect effective teachers.

Kent said...

You state that the wrong teachers are kept and good teachers are let go. In your comments you link that problem to tenure and you claim that principals know better who the good and bad teachers are. These two assertions contradict each other. The principal is the main determiner of who gets tenure so if he picked the best teachers you would be wrong. If not you should wonder why.

Janine Cate said...

The vast majority of teachers get tenure, a reported 98%. Only a small percentage of that 98% are great teachers. Most are pretty average and some are down right awful. The bar is pretty low. Show up regularly and don't get caught doing something egregious and you've got tenure.

Just because a teacher was passable three years into his career, doesn't mean he ever was a "good" teacher or that he will continue to be so.

One of the great down falls of public education is its inflexibility. Circumstances change. People change. Budgets change. Principals need to be able to react to the changes.