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Learning About Teaching: Initial Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project

Abstract

"The evidence of wide differences in student achievement gains in different teachers' classrooms is like a colossal divining rod, pointing at the ground, saying, "Dig here." Dig here if you want to learn what great teaching looks like. Dig here if you want to better understand what teachers do to help students learn. This is where you will learn about ways to generate dramatically different results for kids.

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we have begun to dig. Although we have only begun to scratch the surface, the results so far are encouraging. Two types of evidence--student achievement gains and student feedback--do seem to point in the same direction, with teachers performing better on one measure tending to perform better on the other measures. In other words, it is possible to combine in a coherent package a teacher's student achievement results with feedback on specific strengths and weaknesses in their practice. We will be adding other measures--such as classroom observations and new teacher assessments--in future reports.

The public debate over measuring teacher effectiveness usually portrays only two options: the status quo (where there is no meaningful feedback for teachers) and a seemingly extreme world where tests scores alone determine a teacher's fate. Our results suggest that's a false choice."

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