Categories for Quality Teachers
October 26, 2018
Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?
This report and podcast examines the scientific basis for how to teach reading to children. This investigation reveals how children learn to read, emphasizing the five critical components of reading instruction. Unfortunately, most teacher preparation programs ignore the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of kids are being set up to fail. This American Public Media documentary assesses the current knowledge base behind sound reading practices, the positive impact of effective reading practices can have on student reading performance, and the challenges faced in implementing these practices in the face of opposition from practitioners of whole language and proponents of balanced reading instruction.
Citation:Hanford, E, (2018). Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? American Public Media (APM). https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read
October 22, 2018
Teacher Soft Skills Overview
A teacher’s success is predicated on effective mastery of two requisite skill categories: technical competencies and personal competencies (soft skills). Technical skills are the specific skills and factual knowledge intrinsic to a specific job. Technical competencies elemental to teaching include instruction, assessment, and classroom management. Personal competencies, on the other hand, are skills broadly applicable to almost all professions; they create the foundation that enables a person to effectively use technical skills. Personal competencies basic to teaching include high expectations, love of learning, active listening, ability to adapt to novel situations, empathy, cultural sensitivity, positive regard for students, and good time management. Personal competency research shows large effect sizes, ranging from 0.72 to 0.87, for effective teacher-student relations that increase student academic performance and improve classroom climate. Unfortunately, teacher preparation and on-the-job staff development neglect this important training. To remedy the situation, more research is required to better define the field of personal competencies, and expanded training, including coaching, must be adopted during pre-service and induction.
Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2018). Overview of Teacher Soft Skills.Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/teacher-compentencies-soft-skills.
October 2, 2018
Formal Teacher Evaluation
This paper examines formal teacher evaluation. Formal teacher evaluation is integrated into many state and district policies, and, even with shifts in federal focus under ESSA, is likely to remain common practice. The goal of formal teacher evaluation is to collect data that accurately represents teacher practice and the connection to student achievement in a valid and reliable way, and use that information to improve the system for teaching and learning. Although conclusions about the impact of teacher evaluation on student achievement are mixed (Stecher et al., 2018; Taylor & Tyler, 2012a, 2012b), ideally collecting and using information about teacher practice can advance the conversation about quality instruction and teaching potential.
Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2018). Overview of Teacher Formal Evaluation. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/teacher-evaluation-formal.
September 10, 2018
Instructional Coaching Program and Practice Standards
The New Teacher Center has released guidelines and standards for the implementation of coaching as a powerful means of improving school, teacher, and ultimately student performance. The Instructional Coaching Program Standardsdefine the essential elements of a coaching program designed to accelerate teacher effectiveness. Districts can then use the Instructional Coaching Practice Standards as a framework to implement the components in a strategic, quality practice. The components consist of selection, roles, and responsibilities of coaches who will provide focused instructional assistance to teachers; preparation, development, and ongoing support for those coaches; a collaborative system of formative assessment of practice for teachers and coaches; and targeted, differentiatedprofessional learning opportunities for teachers. Formal standards are necessary for overcoming deficits inherent in previous in-service and teacher induction efforts that often left implementation of teacher training up to each personto define. This transformation is essential in assuring a consistency of practice for all the differing interventions currently bundled under the coaching label. These new coaching standards are a clarification and distillation of current practice elements, and are designed to make coaching more productive and cost effective.
New Teacher Center (2018). Instructional Coaching Program and Practice Standards. New Teacher Center. https://newteachercenter.org
September 10, 2018
Does Tailoring Instruction to “Learning Styles” Help Students Learn?
In this 2018 analysis, Daniel Willingham revisits his 2005 review of the literature on learning styles. Thirteen years ago he concluded there is no evidence supporting theories that distinguish between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles and improved achievement. To update his earlier study, Willingham examined research published since 2005. Learning style theorists have postulated that teaching to a specific learning style will help struggling students achieve success in school. Willingham begins by differentiating between learning style and ability. He defines learning style as the way a person completes tasks, and ability as how well the person executes the tasks. Learning style advocates believe that having a student focus on a preferred style will lead to improved performance. The recent research examined by Willingham supports his earlier conclusion: “There is not convincing evidence to support the idea that tailoring instruction according to a learning-styles theory improves student outcomes.” Matching instruction to learning style ultimately offers no credible benefit to students.Willingham did find new research confirming that people do show a preference for one style over another, but acting on the preference does not improve performance.
The implications from this research are that educators do not need to match learning style to student. Finally, it is worthwhile for teachers to teach students strategies that are effective and necessary for solving specific problems such as memorizing information, reading with comprehension, overcoming math anxiety, and avoiding distraction.
Citation: Willingham, D. T. (2018). Does tailoring instruction to “learning styles” help students learn? Ask the cognitive scientist. American Educator, 28–43.
July 26, 2018
Teacher Evaluation Overview (Wing Institute Original Paper)
Teachers contribute to student achievement. As a practice, teacher evaluation has developed over time. Today, the focus of teacher evaluation is to determine the impact of teaching on student outcomes and for use as professional development. Research on teacher evaluation has produced mixed results. This overview provides information about teacher evaluation as it relates to collecting information about teacher practice and using it to improve student outcomes. The history of teacher evaluation and current research findings and implications are included. (Read More)
Citation: Cleaver, S., Detrich, R. & States, J. (2018). Overview of Teacher Evaluation. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/assessment-summative.
July 24, 2018
Impact of In-Service Professional Development Programs for Early Childhood Teachers on Quality Ratings and Child Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis
News Summary: This meta-analysis examines the impact of professional development on program quality and educational outcomes for children in early childhood programs. The study attempts to answer three questions: (1) evaluate the impact of in-service programs for early childhood professional development, (2) identify program characteristics that moderate the effects of training on quality of service, and (3) identify the links between in-service training to childhood outcomes. To be included in this analysis a study must address staff development for early childhood instructors, be a quantitative experimental or quasi-experimental study, and report effect sizes or comparable data. The study reported a positive impact on the quality of services as evidenced by scores on Classroom Assessment Scoring System, Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation, Environmental Rating Scales, and Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System. A medium effect size of 0.68 was found for improving process outcomes. A second meta-analysis of nine studies provided data on both quality ratings and child development and showed a small effect at child outcomes ES = 0.14. The study found great variances across professional development programs. The researchers established that intensity, duration, and training formats were critical factors in the determination of which programs offering the most effective services. This is not surprising as professional development encompasses a myriad of different practices; some effective and others that produce poor outcomes. This study found programs offering 45-60 hours of training had the greatest impact on process and child outcomes. Programs that offered coaching as an integral component of the training were almost three times as effective as programs that did not.
Citation:Egert, F., Fukkink, R. G., & Eckhardt, A. G. (2018). Impact of in-service professional development programs for early childhood teachers on quality ratings and child outcomes: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 88(3), 401-433.
April 3, 2018
Why Do School Psychologists Cling to Ineffective Practices? Let’s Do What Works.
This article examines the impact of poor decision making in school psychology, with a focus on determining eligibility for special education. Effective decision making depends upon the selection and correct use of measures that yield reliable scores and valid conclusions, but traditional psychometric adequacy often comes up short. The author suggests specific ways in which school psychologists might overcome barriers to using effective assessment and intervention practices in schools in order to produce better results.
Citation: VanDerHeyden, A. M. (2018, March). Why Do School Psychologists Cling to Ineffective Practices? Let’s Do What Works. In School Psychology Forum, Research in Practice(Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 44-52). National Association of School Psychologists.
March 22, 2018
Promoting Educator Effectiveness: The Effects of Two Key Strategies
The National Center for Education Evaluation, a division of the Institute of Education Sciences has released a new research brief that evaluated two strategies for improving educator effectiveness as measured by improvements in student outcomes. The two strategies evaluated were performance feedback to educators about several dimensions of their performance for a period of two years and a pay-for-performance system that was in place for four years. In the performance feedback project teachers were given feedback four times per year on their classroom practices and principals received feedback two times per year. The impact on student outcomes were small. After the first year, there was a statistically significant difference between students in math but not in reading in the feedback schools compared to the schools that served as the control group as measured by end of year scores. At the end of the second year there were no statistically significant effects for either reading or math. The net gain in math achievement for the students in the feedback schools was about 4 weeks compared to the control group.
The pay-for-performance study teachers were eligible for performance bonuses based on their ratings across multiple dimensions of their performance. The students in the pay-for-performance schools outperformed the students in the control group schools in both math and reading. Statistically significant scores were obtained in reading beginning the first year and each subsequent year through the third year. Students math scores in the pay-for-performance schools achieved statistically significant scores only at the end of the third year. There was no additional benefit in reading or math for pay-for-performance in the fourth year. The overall benefit of the gains by the students in the pay-for-performance schools was estimated to be 3-4 weeks. Again, this is a relatively small impact. It was noted that the quality of implementation may have reduced the impact of the two projects. Across both studies, there were discrepancies between how the programs were intended to be implemented and how they were actually implemented. Further limitations of the studies are that the performance feedback for teachers was only four times per year. This is generally considered to be far too infrequent to have meaningful impact. In the pay-for-performance study, 40% of the teachers reported that they were not aware they were eligible for bonuses, limiting the motivational properties of the bonus system. Given these results it is clear that we must continue searching for effective approaches to improving educator performance and ways to assure high quality implementation.
Citation: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences (March 2018). Promoting Educator Effectiveness: The Effects of Two Key Strategies.
February 28, 2018
WWC Examines the Evidence on Two Teacher Training Programs
News Summary: If teachers are to have a significant impact on student learning it is necessary for them to be well trained and prepared for the role of teacher. This report examined the effectiveness of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and My TeachingPartner Pre-K. The NBPTS is a professional certification program for teachers that have taught at least three years and can meet the NBPTS standards. My TeachingPartner Pre-K incorporates multiple media and coaching to prepare early education teachers. The results of the What Works Clearinghouse review of NBPTS is that it had mixed effects in mathematics in grades 3-8 and no discernable effect on English language arts achievement. There were no studies that met WWC standards for review so no judgment can be made about its effectiveness. The results of this review highlight the necessity of evaluating the effectiveness of teacher training programs. The stakes are very high for the students and families being served by teachers and nationally very large amount of money is spent on training teachers. It would be nice to know which approaches to teacher professional development are effective and which have no beneficial effect.
Citation: What Works Clearinghouse, Institute for Education Science (2018). National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification Intervention Report. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/InterventionReport/689