A study found
that effective teachers can boost the test scores of students who had struggled
under low-performing instructors, marking a new salvo in the national debate
over teacher performance.
three-year study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, published Tuesday,
is the first large-scale research to show, using random student assignment,
that some teachers can produce test-score gains regardless of the past
performance of their students, according to foundation officials.
Tom Kane, a
professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and leader of the research
project, said the data provide the best evidence yet that some teachers can
"cause student achievement to happen, and this is a really big deal."
officials increasingly emphasize the need to evaluate, pay and fire teachers
based on performance. More than two dozen states have passed laws to evaluate
teachers, in part, on test scores, prodded by the Obama administration's Race
to the Top education initiative, which offered money to states that began the
Foundation said its study found that a combination of student surveys of
teacher quality, well-crafted observations of classroom teaching and test
scores is the best predictor of teacher effectiveness. Mr. Kane said combining
all three is the best predictor of teacher quality.
the Gates effort is flawed because it begins in part with the assumption that
test scores are a good measure of teacher effectiveness, and then seeks to
prove it by using test scores. Some teachers unions and parents say tests are a
crude measure of teacher effectiveness.
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