Disqus

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Student Teacher Performance with Better Training

Teacher-in-training performance was the topic of this story that appeared in the Times. From the article:

A new licensing system is being tested in 19 states that includes filming student teachers in their classroom and evaluating the video, also candidates must show they can prepare a lesson, tailor it to different levels of students and present it effectively.

Most states only require that would-be teachers pass their class work and a written test. Supporters of the new system say the Teacher Performance Assessment program is a significant improvement, while others are a little more cautious in their praise, warning that it's not guaranteed it will lead to more successful teachers.

The assessments also place responsibility for grading the would-be teachers with teams of outside evaluators who have no stake in the result. Currently, the teachers-in-training are evaluated by their colleges, which want their students to get their teaching licenses.

Sounds good and yet another way to assess preparedness to teach in a classroom. Guess where it's coming to?

Minnesota is scheduled to be the first state to adopt the new system when it implements it in 2012. Four other states - Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington - plan to implement it within five years. Fourteen more states are running pilots.

So we have a new teachers contract with more ways to evaluate our teachers. We will soon have a new way to review student teachers to make sure qualified teachers get into the classroom. Sure sounds like progress towards better teachers coming in and staying in our classrooms.

The teacher assessment program is a joint project by a consortium made up of Stanford University, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Sharon P. Robinson, president of the AACTE, an umbrella group for schools that specialize in training teachers, said the assessment will mean better teachers - and ultimately more successful students.

The assessment was developed at Stanford's Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity. Ray Pecheone, the center's executive director, said more than 12,000 teaching candidates have gone through it in four years of testing in California.


This helps make sure that teaching colleges aren't just churning out teaching candidates.

Karen Balmer, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Teaching, said the assessments will mean more accountability for teaching colleges. For the first time, she said, her agency will have independent data that shows how well those schools are preparing students. Those that consistently produce low-performing graduates could be ordered by the state to improve their programs.

And guess who isn't that impressed? The folks over NCTQ.

Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the program.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the nonpartisan National Council on Teacher Quality, said she would support any test that could predict who will be a good teacher, but she's not sure performance assessments are it. Too often, she said, the passing scores on such assessments are set so low that nearly everyone passes and the weakest teachers aren't held back.

"The track record of these kinds of assessments actually being able to separate wheat from chaff is not so persuasive," Jacobs said.

Why again do we need TFA and their speed-dial 5-week training?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saw this comment to the Times article so I thought you would all appreciate it:

"While there is no doubt that these students at West Seattle Elementary School will improve marginally on their state test (MSP) scores over the next few years, you will not hear about the cost to the personal lives of its staff members. These teachers are expected to work between 10-12 hours per day; that means 2-4 hours without pay. These teachers will spend most of their weekends and evenings grading papers and planning curriculum (also without pay!). They will not say "no" to these stressful hours because the pressure from academic coaches, the principal, and Maria Goodloe-Johnson will hang over them like the Sword of Damocles."

"This type of school reform relies on young (poorly paid) teachers, desperate for work, all of whom are beholden to low-level administrators who are cowed by a central administration that treats employees like coal miners in the 1920's."

"It reminds me of that song by Tennessee Ernie Ford:

"I teach 56 hours and what do I get?"
"Another day older, and deeper in debt."
"Maria Goodloe-Johnson please let me rest."
"Do I owe my soul to the District Store?"

"Epilogue: If teachers are like coal miners, then the "work-for-free" Teach for America staffers that the district wants to hire must be the 21st Century equivalent to the 20th Century scabs that broke strikes by working longer hours for substandard wages. A system based on low-wage, over-worked labor, is destined to fail. I give it three years...you heard it here first."

The commentator pegs Education Reform perfectly...

Concerned West Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

"...Most states only require that would-be teachers pass their class work and a written test..."

Is anyone aware that "Internship" once called "Student teaching" has been in place in Seattle (and probably most districts in WA ST) for many years?

ken berry

peonypower said...

CWSP
You got it, and work load is why teachers leave the profession. The average time a science teacher works is 2.5 years one of the lowest retention rates in the profession.

At a meeting with colleagues recently one of the issues discussed was work load. To give a sense of what a typical grading work load is check these numbers. A high school teacher typically has 145-150 students. If each student has 3 assignments due each week the teacher needs to grade and give feedback on approximately 435 papers (going with 145 students) per week. If the teacher spends 2.5 minutes on each paper then this equals 18 hours of grading each week. I suppose the idea is that the teacher accomplishes this during their preparatory period or before or after school, but really papers are graded at home, on the weekend, and during long grading sessions, and to give meaningful feedback takes longer than 2.5 minutes. One of the best teaching tools is constructive feedback and then student revision of their work, but every week there is that stack of 450 papers to get through. Is it any wonder that students receive papers with a grade and nothing else.

Drop student load to 100 students and the time to grade drops to 12 hours. Teachers like the ones in West Seattle are working under a grueling contract, and not only will they suffer, but what about the students who must now meet the bar or their beloved teacher loses their job. I think you can add children into that song.

Deep, rich, relevant content, this is what excellent education provides, and teaching to the test is not that.

As far as teacher training goes- everyone in my program had to be filmed twice during student teaching, and be evaluated on that video as well as all of the other teaching standards. It is a revelatory experience to see yourself on film teaching, and a tool that helped me sharpen my technique in the classroom. Should it make or break a candidate- probably not, but it was a useful tool, and a 20 minute teaching video is part of the national board portfolio requirement as well.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.