In a yahoogroup on Metro Nashville Public Schoos (MNPS), I was asked about how I use the term "effective teacher", how I would keep them, and whether it really takes around 10 years for a teacher to reach his maximum effectiveness. The answer to the latter is that is what TVAAS data indicates, and, yes, I believe it. As for the rest, here's my response:
How do I use "effective"? Basically, the 20% of
teachers in Tennessee who get the highest TVAAS gains
scores are what I call "highly effective". The 20%
that get the lowest (including negative gains!) are
highly ineffective. The rest are, effective, average, and ineffective.
"Wait," you may be saying, "there's more to good
teaching than test scores." Well, I could ask, what
more? And why do you think it would not be reflected
in test scores? But, the more powerful question is
whether a person making that claim would be willing
for her children to be squenced through a string of
highly ineffective teachers. Sure would help with the triage problem. If you haven't read this:
I highly recommend it. One of the most important
pieces of educational research in the last decade, and its results have been duplicated with different tests and underlying methodology. See
http://www.shearonforschools.com/TVAAS.html for more
As for the 10-year learning curve, three points:
#1 -- How can we get new teachers a higher starting
point on that curve? This is a question for teacher
education programs and my understanding is that the
schools in TN are working with Dr. Sanders on this.
#2 -- How can we shorten the curve for teachers in the system? Notice the use of lead teachers in the NY Times article in anoter post to this group. I'd also highly recommend lesson study, but that's a judgment -- we didn't stick with it and so don't have data. Finally, continuing education is an important
component, but it's not nearly enough in itself.
#3 -- How can we keep the best teachers? Respect.
Stop the "central office to improve teaching"
approach. Ten years from now, teacher engagement,
reflection, thoughtfulness and cooperative improvement will still be important. Sandy Johnson's programs won't be. Stop telling them how to teach. Make sure, and I mean with data and systematic approaches, that the culture in each school is healthy and that we are tapping the feelings and opinions of teachers.