There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
a war between the black and white,
a war between the odd and the even.
Watch U-Tube of Leonard Cohen.
An added line, a war between the young and old.
Is there a war between the young and old? Is management trying to force out senior teachers?
Do teachers become less effective over time? Is a senior teacher “worth” twice as much as a new teacher?
Education Week points to a number of studies that appear to show that student achievement is not negatively impacted if seniority teachers are encouraged to leave.
Boosting early retirement in cash-strapped districts doesn’t hurt students’ math and reading scores, according to new studies released at the American Economic Association meeting here, but pension-incentive programs may cost schools some of their most effective teachers.
Studies challenge senior-based layoffs and argue for “effectiveness-based” layoffs.
Weighted-student funding, in New York City called fair student funding drives dollars to schools in lieu of a district office assigning numbers of teachers. The “actual teacher salary” rather than an “average teacher salary” is used forcing a principal to take salary as well as effectiveness into account when hiring a teacher. (See detailed description of funding formula here).
The age of principals has declined dramatically over the decade of the Bloomberg/Klein Children First Initiative. Does less teaching and supervisory experience make a principal more effective?
Educators4Excellence, a Gates-funded faction within the teacher union favors layoff by “effectiveness” rather than seniority.
On the other hand the age range of teachers who are union activists is quite wide – from teachers in their twenties to teachers in their sixties.
Value-added measurements of teacher effectiveness are highly unstable – scores vary widely from year to year.
The economists, the psychometricians, the “big data” compilers all make decisions based on standardized test scores.
David Conley, the leading expert on college and career readiness asks us to take a closer look at “cognitive” versus “noncognitive” behaviors of students.
Perhaps it’s time to move beyond our current overly cautious approach to measuring elements of the learning process that extend beyond content knowledge. Perhaps it’s time to think of noncognitive dimensions of learning as forms of thinking, rather than as a process that does not involve cognition.
Are we not observing a higher form of thinking when we see students persist with difficult tasks, such as overcoming frustration; setting and achieving goals; seeking help; working with others; and developing, managing, and perceiving their sense of self-efficacy? Are these qualities not at least as important as knowing how well students recall information about the year in which the Civil War began, or how to factor a polynomial? Might what we observe when we look for noncognitive factors be a more complex form of cognition—a result of executive functioning by the brain as it monitors and adjusts to circumstances to accomplish specific aims and objectives? In other words, might these behaviors be manifestations not of feelings, but of metacognition—the mind’s ability to reflect on how effectively it is handling the learning process as it is doing so?
The American Psychology Association agrees with Conley,
Mom always said that personality and smarts go farther than good looks. And now even psychologists are on her side.
For years, psychologists turned to cognitive ability, brainpower, as a predictor of job performance. Smarter people were considered more likely to succeed on the job. But intelligence is only part of the story.
Other important factors in job performance – creativity, leadership, integrity, attendance and cooperation – are related to personality, not intelligence.
One research camp argues that conscientiousness – being responsible, dependable, organized and persistent – is generic to success.
Interpersonal skills are another predictor of job performance. As the workplace moves toward teamwork and service-oriented jobs, evaluating interpersonal skills becomes increasingly important.
Teaching is an incredibly complex task; it is not simply the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. Having the ability to motivate students, to teach them what Conley calls “metacognitive learning skills” may be as important, or more important than measuring how kids achieve on a three-hour reading test.
Can the skills learned on a basketball court: teamwork, persistence and leadership predict job success more than a standardized test score grade?
How do we measure “metacognative learning skills” and how do we connect the learning of the skills to a teacher?
Should we look at Value-Added Modeling, parent and students surveys, supervisory observation and peer reviews?
Should teachers in a school be able to design their own assessment? If so, what should it look like?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the teacher assessment discussion is the beginning of a lengthy meaningful discussion.