What the research really shows: Almost ALL TEACHERS are better when parents are involved……


While reading this article last night on my iPhone, I could not decide who would be the prime person to deride – everyone seemed equally culpable of faulty logic.  I do know that this article is an insult to teachers and their intelligence and it is beyond my understanding how so many high profile people and groups glommed on to such an idea.  Bear with me as I state the obvious to those of you reading my blog.

Let me start with the article author (and, by happenstance whomever her editor might be). 

Dallas public schools have joined a national research project that will delve into what makes teachers good at what they doa key ingredient in how students perform on high-stakes tests.

Diane – thank you for pointing out that a so called good teacher is only as good as how their students perform on high stakes tests. Right off the bat I knew there was a conflict of interest as you did not elucidate those outside of education that not all people believe teacher effectiveness can be measured by high stakes test results since there are many years of teaching (and hopefully, parent involvement) by multiple teachers and misconceptions are incredibly difficult to overcome, even in multiple choice tests.

Research has shown that if students are repeatedly exposed to ineffective teachers, “it’s almost impossible for them to bounce back,” Hinojosa said.

A wrong answer in class is actually a good teaching opportunity, Kane said. Teachers should respond by asking students to explain their reasoning for the wrong answer, so the teacher can understand why the student isn’t getting the concept.

Diane, you quoted Mr. Hinojosa and Mr. Kane so clearly the ‘evidence’ is there. Un fortunately no one bothers to cite the studies they are using to support their statements. Why then would anyone want to peg test scores single handedly on a teacher as a measure of competence?

Mr. Hinojosa knows by inexperience, rather than experience, the issues surrounding middle school teachers. Would it not seem reasonable that teachers want an ‘advocate’ who knows by experience what they do?  The manifestations of pegging test scores to a teacher who has students which already had 5-7 (under the best possible scenario) other previous teachers K-5,6,7 seems  and is outlandish.   Would you expect a doctor to take full successive  responsibility for five previous surgeries which worked to varying degrees by five different surgeons?

I would check Mr. Hinojosa’s educational background, and evaluate

…get some information that says, ‘This is what good teaching is about…

since good teaching is about so much more than test scores.

Critics say that basing a teacher’s evaluation simply on student test scores isn’t fair, and that multiple measures should be used to define teacher quality.

It would seem the criticism is actually to help spend the Gates Foundation money effectively since the money spent on small schools was not a long enough longitudinal study, hence the shifting of gears.  Who is to know that 10-15 years out, a student benefits from something if there is no data since the game plan was changed mid-course.  It would seem from this article, people are looking for the new-NEW thing, not the thing or a modification there of which works.

DISD math teachers in grades 6 to 8, reading teachers in grade 6, and English and language arts teachers in grades 7 and 8 will be involved.

Further evidence that the narrow focus of literacy and math does not take into account students who struggle with science misconceptions, social studies, etc. Essentially the study is directed at only the material items with the largest bang for the buck on state testing, not on what is successful teaching. Successful teaching occurs across all subjects.

Students will be surveyed to measure how they perceive their teacher. That feedback can help teachers improve their performance.

Kane said he hopes student evaluations will become a standard part of teacher evaluations. He also said classroom videos may be able to replace or supplement evaluations done by principals, who may only be able to visit a classroom for a limited time.

This element has witch hunt written all over it. Students who are not performing well can and do gang up to punish a teacher, which assists in the creation of teacher churning, much like fully managed stock brokerages do with accounts. 

Once, in my career of teaching, I actually had a principal who was outstanding.  She (Janet Trostle, Duarte Unified School District) made it a point to script out observations, review with teachers and actually coach. Not only did the staff love her, they enjoyed her feedback – she was the principal teachers wanted to work for.   Sadly, the other principals I have worked for pretty much either really lacked the time or, mostly the case, did not care enough to be effective so avoided observations until it was a last minute, get it under the wire.  One principal, from a charter school,  never wrote anything for me and then decided the last day of school to put me on corrective action because I had a legitimate health problem requiring surgery and I would be out 6 weeks and this would affect how the school year started out which meant his test scores would be affected. This MO was applied to another teacher as well.    I dislike Mr. Kane suggesting that student surveys could some how replace a professional educator doing their job and coaching their teachers.  I believe I missed the portion of graduate school where popularity was an effective coaching method, in fact, I believe it is frowned upon as a method of classroom management for students.

 Kane said. “The new generation of measures will help point teachers to specific things they can be doing to improve.”

I am suggesting  Mr. Kane focus in on the research which says in study after study that  the ‘measures’ which will help point administrators in the direction of  creating great learning environments, must focus on parental involvement.

I would have no problem being evaluated by a matrix as long as it included that the test scores could only be used if I had 95%  ACTIVE parent involvement.  Anything less pushes the burden to teachers, which is not where responsibility lays.