Gates Foundation releases preliminary findings on effective teachers

Diverse Elementary ClassTeachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests tend to help students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing, says a preliminary report on The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s ambitious Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project.

“Many have speculated that teachers with high value-added scores are simply coaching students to score well on the state tests,” says a report on MET’s early findings, Learning about Teaching.

But the MET research so far has found that students of teachers who go for deep conceptual learning are outperforming students of those who teach to the test. MET has so far collected digital video of 13,000 lessons from 3,000 volunteer teachers who have opened up their classrooms to the researchers. MET researchers are also surveying students, analyzing student test scores and the results of supplemental tests that assess student understanding of math and reading comprehension based on their written interpretations of a reading passage.

“The type of teaching that leads to gains on the state tests corresponds with better performance on cognitively challenging tasks and tasks that require deeper conceptual understanding such as writing,” the report says.

The 3 other preliminary findings announced from the national study on teacher effectiveness are:

  • Teachers’ past success in raising student achievement on state tests (that is his or her value-added) is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do it again
  • Students know effective teaching when they experience it. When students report positive classroom experiences, those classrooms tend to achieve greater learning gains.
  • Valid feedback does not need to be limited to test scores alone. By combining different sources of data, it’s possible to provide targeted feedback to teachers who want to improve.

Raters refer to the following observation protocols in scoring the videotaped lessons:

  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
  • Framework for Teaching
  • Quality of Instruction
  • Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observation (PLATO)
  • Quality Science Teaching (QST)

A subset of the videos is also being scored using the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

“Learning to Teach,” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011

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