In a report last spring, Ashley LiBetti Mitchel and I wrote that there’s simply no magic cocktail of teacher preparation program requirements or personal characteristics that will guarantee someone becomes a great teacher.
Since we wrote that report, there’s been even more evidence showing the same thing. I like pictures, so I’m going to pull some key graphics to help illustrate one basic point: There’s really no definitive way to tell who’s going to be a good teacher before they start teaching. Continue reading
All students should be held to the same learning expectations throughout their K-12 experience. All teachers should meet the same level of practitioner ability before entering the profession. These two statements seem like no brainers. But in practice, determining the cut scores for student and teacher proficiency is complicated. So complicated that even well-meaning reforms have failed at the task.
This week, Motoko Rich of The New York Times highlighted that states using the same assessment to test students’ proficiency on the Common Core State Standards are setting different proficiency labels. This means that while all students in Ohio, Illinois, and Massachusetts took the same assessment this year (PARCC), a 4th grade student in Ohio who is marked as proficient would be considered below proficient in Illinois and Massachusetts due to higher cut scores in the latter two states.* This disconnect is not new in K-12 education. For a long time states had their own homegrown standards and assessments so cross-state comparisons were all but impossible. It’s just that the Common Core was supposed to change all of that.
Teachers face their own challenges in crossing state lines. A new educator assessment, edTPA, was developed to streamline the skills and knowledge teachers should possess before entering the classroom. This year, 17 states used edTPA and six of them attached consequences to the results. Of those six states, the passage cut scores for the assessment varied greatly state to state and were well below edTPA’s recommendations.
(Click on graph for a larger image.)
All this shows that setting a minimum bar for student and teacher performance is hard. Political and practical barriers get in the way. Continue reading