On the issue of teacher quality, among the core work Gates will support is designing “measures, observational and evaluation tools, and data systems that can fairly and accurately identify effective teaching,” the strategy document says.
It also will work with districts to develop systems that retain and compensate teachers based on their effectiveness in educating students, and help ensure that high-quality teachers are placed in the schools that need them the most.
The strategy document points to research suggesting that teachers matter most to student learning. It argues that most new teachers are granted tenure after several years with little evaluation of how successful they are at improving student achievement.
“We make no special efforts to reward or retain teachers who have proven themselves particularly effective in the classroom or to put them on a positive career path,” the foundation says.
Policy initiatives affecting teacher evaluation and pay often generate controversy, especially from teachers’ unions, which have raised concerns about the design of many such efforts.
“We believe in incentive systems, but we understand the concerns that without the right design, they could behave arbitrarily or incent the wrong things,” Mr. Gates said at the meeting. “An incentive system needs to be transparent, it needs to make sense … and teachers themselves need to see the benefit of the system and embrace it.”
Education Week opines
Randi Weingarten positioned herself as an education reformer during her first speech in the nation’s capital since taking over as president of the American Federation of Teachers. She signaled her union was wide open to discussing once-taboo issues ranging from merit pay to charter schools to tenure changes.
The world of data of getting more and more sophisticated. As Ian Ayres tells us in Super Crunchers: Why Thinking By Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart tools are now available to shift through enormous data sets and draw accurate predictions. We can, or shortly will be able, to tell which teachers are more effective in raising ELA and Math test scores. Now, teachers rightfully complain that testing is not the “be all” and “end all” of education; however, in too many schools, poor children of color, are not achieving.
If we can identify teachers who can raise standardized test scores should we adequately compensate (i.e., merit or bonus pay) them to work with children in schools that have not been successful? Conversely, if we can identify teachers who have not been unsuccessful should this data be used as part of a dismissal process?
These are weighty issues: teacher unions have been in the forefront of the fight against the use student testing data to compensate and/or evaluate teachers. Weingarten appears to signal that she is open to exploring these issues.
She may be gagging on Joel, will she be flirting with Bill?