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Author Topic: Absolutely the Best Dentist
philnotfil
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This came up in conversation this morning, so I thought I would share it even though it is old enough that everyone should have already seen it before [Smile]

aasa.org

quote:
My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me. And, at 52, I've still got all my teeth.

When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the state’s new initiative to help him succeed in his work. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure the effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.

"No," he responded. "How will they do that?"

"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14 and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average and Unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don’t improve could lose their licenses to practice in South Carolina."

"That's terrible," he said.

"That's not a good attitude," I told him. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."

"Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don’t all work with the same clientele? So much depends on things we can’t control.

"For example," he went on, "I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don’t bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem and I don't get to do much preventive work.

"Also, many of the parents I serve have allowed their kids to consume way too much candy and soda from an early age, unlike more-educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay.

"To top it all off," he continued, "so many of my clients have well water that is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"

That is just the warm up, the rest of the article is enjoyable.
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LetterRip
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Why would false and misleading analogies be enjoyable? Do you enjoy it when people try to decieve you or others?

For instance the major socioeconomic factors are accounted for in the decomposition so differnet neighborhoods etc will have zero impact. Ie the wealthy parent neighborhood vs poor neighborhood.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Why would false and misleading analogies be enjoyable? Do you enjoy it when people try to decieve you or others?

For instance the major socioeconomic factors are accounted for in the decomposition so differnet neighborhoods etc will have zero impact. Ie the wealthy parent neighborhood vs poor neighborhood.

LR, which teacher evaluations in use, based on student test scores, correct for even just these factors you've identified? Can you name even one? You are ignoring two key facts:

1. Just because its possibly to correct for certain externalities, doesn't mean that it happens in practice, and

2. There are many factors that cannot be corrected for, which has been discussed here (I'll try to find the thread later).

I spoke at length about the most obvious one to me as an educator, which is that while the effects of teaching are cumulative, the outcomes in learning often come in "breakthroughs". Lots of teachers contribute to an effect that is only measurable for one of those teachers. These types of dynamics are pretty much the norm when teaching human beings; standardized tests, on the other hand, would be excellent for teaching robots.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
For instance the major socioeconomic factors are accounted for in the decomposition so differnet neighborhoods etc will have zero impact. Ie the wealthy parent neighborhood vs poor neighborhood.

Except for the part where they aren't and where the neighborhood the kids come from does have a significant impact. But yeah, other than that I agree with you.
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TomDavidson
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LR, can I ask why you have such a stick up your butt about teacher certification? I ask because you normally seem like a relatively reasonable, caring-about-actual-evidence sort of guy, but you've got an absolute hate-on for the profession of teaching.
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LetterRip
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TomD,

I have a problem with lies and deception in general, I have a problem with protecting and rewarding the incompetent in general, I have a problem with inefficiency in general, I feel that education is one of the most important roles in society. Teacher Unions are at the intersection of all three on this issue and actively work against improvements in education.

Pretty much all value added models either account for Socioeconomic background implicitly or explicitly. Value added models can quite reliably idenitfy which are the worst and best teachers especially when combined with student feedback.

The primary determinants of teacher pay are factors that are useless.

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LetterRip
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Adam,

I'm not sure which models are in use - if the arguement the teachers and unions were making was that they wanted the most reliable models used that explicitly accounted for socioeconomic and other factors then I'd applaud them and say there demands were completely reasonable - however the fights aren't for the best evaluation tools - they are to completely avoid objective evaluation methods entirely.

Regarding your 'lagged effects' as I pointed out the last time, we already are able to sepetate this out with existing statistical methods.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Teacher Unions are at the intersection of all three on this issue and actively work against improvements in education.


Teacher unions are the ONLY political group in this country that actually cares about student learning. And that's not hyperbole. These are people who have chosen to spend their careers *in the room* with students. Regardless of how fancy their rhetoric, no other group is actually walking the walk. Teachers have the expertise, the actual hands-on experience, and the demonstrated commitment to actually helping kids learn. And their voice is nearly unanimous on this issue: standardized tests are bad for kids, because *standardization* is bad for kids. Its a system designed for the industrial revolution, where factories wanted line workers with established and reliable knowledge sets. Its got nothing to do with how kids learn, it subsumes the needs of the individual to the needs of the state, and it prevents the entire system from tapping into the real and genuine potential of our students.

This is where the bizarre demonization of the teaching profession comes from: standards advocates who don't get their way fast enough, and turn to blaming teachers unions as lazy, greedy obstacles to "reform". The reality is that teacher's unions are saving this country from a disastrous bureaucratic takeover of schools, and being vilified for doing it,

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LetterRip
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Adam,

Teachers unions care about the union first. teachers second, and education quality a distant third. Thus if something benefits students such as volunteers then the unions have opposed them. Unions have negotioted compensation to be primarily based on longevity in the union and educational attainment which are both of no benefit to students. Unions fight to keep incompetent teachers from being dismissed.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Adam,

I'm not sure which models are in use - if the arguement the teachers and unions were making was that they wanted the most reliable models used that explicitly accounted for socioeconomic and other factors then I'd applaud them and say there demands were completely reasonable - however the fights aren't for the best evaluation tools - they are to completely avoid objective evaluation methods entirely.

I'm in favor of real, effective and valid evaluations; where teaching practice is observed directly by knowledgeable and experienced professionals, and feedback is gathered and processed from all of the stakeholders in education; students, administrators, parents, and community representatives. I'm in favor of formative teacher assessment, where a teacher is expected to refine their method based on those assessments. And I'm in favor of accountability, where teachers who cannot or will not improve their job performance are replaced.

What I oppose is assessments based on magical thinking. Neither you nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever even *attempted* to connect the "objective" findings of testing to any actual teaching practices. "The students didn't learn, so you must not be traching effectively. This other teacher's students did learn, so they must be doing a good job. What is the difference between what they are doing, and what are the practices that lead to success or failure? Who knows? Lets just fire the bad one, who ever we get to replace them will certainly do better." [Roll Eyes]

Its an abdication of professionalism, a refusal to actually study the issue of effective methods. And its pointless, because *within* education, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE STUDY! Teachers and administrators don't have to throw up their hands at these questions; they have intelligent answers based on decades of theory and practice. That is the right way to evaluate teaching; essentially the same way that any competent employer evaluates his employees: know your business, and see who's doing it well. Statistical firing is what you do in large, repetitive labor factory workforces; its ludicrous to apply it to any form of intellectually demanding occupation. Indeed, it would be a very strong indicator of an incompetent manager.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:


Teachers unions care about the union first. teachers second, and education quality a distant third. Thus if something benefits students such as volunteers then the unions have opposed them. Unions have negotioted compensation to be primarily based on longevity in the union and educational attainment which are both of no benefit to students. Unions fight to keep incompetent teachers from being dismissed.

False, false and false, and no actual evidence to refute.
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LetterRip
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As to standardized tests - well designed standardized tests can be of benefit. In their current form they are far from the best they could be (they are often designed to rank order students instead of evaluate breadth and depth of learning, and while the two often overlap they aren't perfectly congruent. Teachers can't customize the test breadth and depth coverage so student scores can skew a bit based on what the teacher covered compared to test coverage leading to teaching to the test. In some instances standardized tests have questions that sophisticated understanding can contradict the answer that would be given with less sophisticated understanding). Thus there are legit complaints about standardized tests, but instead of remedying them (which would be straight forward) teachers simply complain about them and castigate them.
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LetterRip
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Adam,

I don't believe my claims are false, they are all taken from previous ornery discussions (which the ornery search isn't doing well for finding right now),

however google gives some similar information

http://unionwatch.org/the-union-war-on-school-volunteers/

http://unionwatch.org/tenure-for-teachers-enough-is-enough/

Anywho, can find more information if desired...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Teachers unions care about the union first. teachers second, and education quality a distant third. Thus if something benefits students such as volunteers then the unions have opposed them. Unions have negotioted compensation to be primarily based on longevity in the union and educational attainment which are both of no benefit to students. Unions fight to keep incompetent teachers from being dismissed.
Wow. Every single one of those sentences is blatantly false, with the possible exception of the last -- if only because no doubt some of the teachers unions fight to protect are incompetent by some standard.

Edit: I'd just like to point out that many of your sentences would cease to be false if you were to add certain conditionals, like "some" or "in certain scenarios." It is, for example, true that some unions have fought for compensation to be based primarily on longevity and the educational attainment of the teacher, which is not always of benefit to his or her students.

What bothers me most about this attitude is that you seem to think that teachers' unions exist to protect teachers from the well-meaning interference of groups that only want to improve student education, which is an opinion that I don't think can survive contact with the facts.

[ September 13, 2012, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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LetterRip
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Adam,

I've read the entire college teacher curriculum (during college a education major friend of mine I'd borrow her textbooks and read them), also I have a strong background in statistics, evaluation design, education testing design etc.

Based on that, I'm fairly confident what you have learned about test design etc. is much less sophisticated than what was taught in my stats and testing design related courses in my psychology curriculum and my independent learning.

quote:
I'm in favor of real, effective and valid evaluations;
So who do you think is in favor of imaginary, ineffective and invalid evaluations?

quote:
where teaching practice is observed directly by knowledgeable and experienced professionals
You mean teachers watch teachers and evaluate teachers? Or principal sits in on a lesson for an hour? This is already used and the current methodology is apparently a predetermined lesson at a predetermined time which allows the teacher to game the system. It has been shown to be pretty useless in its current incarnation. Something that might work is to have observation videos in classrooms that are watched at random by evaluators unaffiliated with the district, teacher, etc. Also the evaluator could be assigned some preevaluated footage that had been pregraded to be sure that the evaluator can grade in a standardized fashion. (Ie so you don't get evaluators who give all teachers no matter how awful glowing recommendations...).

quote:
and feedback is gathered and processed from all of the stakeholders in education; students, administrators, parents, and community representatives.
What particular feedback do you think each 'stakeholder' should give. It has been shown that parents are generally clueless and will give glowing recommendations or condemnations essentially unrelated to teacher performance. Not sure what 'feedback' from administrators would be of value - they could certainly offer their opinion as to the administrative burden that the teacher has. As to students - they've been shown to be quite good at evaluating good teachers (for 4th grade and older). Also not sure what 'community representatives' means in this context, and what value they could provide.

quote:
I'm in favor of formative teacher assessment, where a teacher is expected to refine their method based on those assessments. And I'm in favor of accountability, where teachers who cannot or will not improve their job performance are replaced.
Pretty sure teachers should know how to teach before being hired, if they can't do so, then why not fire them immediately instead of give them the chance for improvement. If you think teacher education is inadequate to prepare teachers to be competent, then suggest reform to teacher education. Why should students be subjected to teacher incompetence to allow teachers time to improve? This is perhaps the job where 'time to improve' should least be allowed given the long term harm the teacher can do.

quote:
What I oppose is assessments based on magical thinking. Neither you nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever even *attempted* to connect the "objective" findings of testing to any actual teaching practices.
It doesn't really matter if they have been or haven't been connected to particular skills and attributes. That is the beauty of statistical analysis is that it doesn't need to know the why. Ie if you analyse the defect rate for a thousand different workers manufacturing widgets, you can find the worker who is contributing the most defects and then find out why they are causing the defects.

If you like the video observation could be combined with the statistical analysis so that the 'why' could be found, but it isn't neccessary.

quote:
"The students didn't learn, so you must not be traching effectively. This other teacher's students did learn, so they must be doing a good job. What is the difference between what they are doing, and what are the practices that lead to success or failure? Who knows? Lets just fire the bad one, who ever we get to replace them will certainly do better."
Actually while your statement is facicious it is almost certainly true - that firing the statistical bad ones, and hiring new teachers at random would almost certainly cause a strong increase in the average quality of teachers. Of course we could do better than that by after identifying the statistical 'bad teachers' using it as an investigative tool to determine why the teacher was 'bad'. Ie use the video observations from above, use student interviews, etc. This would give teachers feedback and reduce the false positive rate.

quote:
Its an abdication of professionalism, a refusal to actually study the issue of effective methods.
Nope it isn't. As stated above you can use a simplistic statistics only approach (fire any teacher that scores below the cutoff, or fire a teacher who scores n times below the cutoff, etc.), or use a compound approach (if a teacher scores below the cutoff use other investigative methods to find out the cause). Both will converge to better quality teachers as a whole, but the compound approach probably has faster convergence since it has a more complex feedback method.

quote:
And its pointless, because *within* education, THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE STUDY! Teachers and administrators don't have to throw up their hands at these questions; they have intelligent answers based on decades of theory and practice. That is the right way to evaluate teaching; essentially the same way that any competent employer evaluates his employees: know your business, and see who's doing it well. Statistical firing is what you do in large, repetitive labor factory workforces; its ludicrous to apply it to any form of intellectually demanding occupation. Indeed, it would be a very strong indicator of an incompetent manager.
Actually statistical evaluation is used in many corporations as a part of hiring, firing, and promoting of management, white collar, and blue collar workers. Statistical evaluation isn't the 'sole criteria', and noone is suggesting be statistical evaluation be the sole criteria for teacher evaluation.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
This is already used and the current methodology is apparently a predetermined lesson at a predetermined time which allows the teacher to game the system.
Another word for this: a standardized test.

-----------

quote:
That is the beauty of statistical analysis is that it doesn't need to know the why. Ie if you analyse the defect rate for a thousand different workers manufacturing widgets, you can find the worker who is contributing the most defects and then find out why they are causing the defects.
A gripe: you are committing the same mistake with your example as you are committing with teachers, in that you are assuming that the worker who has produced the most widgets with defects is the worker who has caused the most defects. That worker may well work more hours than anyone else on Line Red-C, which may have a structural problem that is misaligning one out of every thirty widgets. And unless you thought to eliminate those variables -- and believe me, despite your assertions, the statisticians looking at educational data aren't exactly as unbiased or as flawlessly perfect as you're assuming, here -- you would never manage to identify that the problem was in the line and not the worker. Heck, if you didn't think to structure your data appropriately, you might just keep firing workers on Red-C every single month and never make the connection, especially if you were crunching numbers in an office three hundred miles away for ten different factories.

[ September 13, 2012, 04:51 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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LetterRip
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TomD,

standardized tests can be designed so that attempts to 'game' them result in having to require the desired objectives - ie to 'game' a math test generally requires learning of the math that will be tested. Now some standardized tests should be redesigned so that they are better in line with objectives, but that is fairly trivial to do.

Regarding 'blantantly false' - could you clarify, I already provided some examples.

Regarding teacher salary - 'ED380435 - A Study of Factors Influencing Teacher Salaries in Vermont' seems to support that the biggest factors were teacher experience(ie years in the union) and education (highest education achievement).

So could you clarify what you mean that it is blatantly false? Also what else are you objecting to?

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LetterRip
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TomD,

quote:
gripe: you are committing the same mistake with your example as you are committing with teachers, in that you are assuming that the worker who has produced the most widgets with defects is the worker who has caused the most defects.
I said you can use compound analysis - use statistics to identify outliers, then additional methods to find the cause. However, even using 'fire the worst n%' if you get repeated poor performance even after switching teachers can show that there is other variables at play.

Also I don't necessarily recommend firing the worst n% in their statistical peer group (though it almost certainly would result in significant overall quality improvements).

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I said you can use compound analysis - use statistics to identify outliers, then additional methods to find the cause.
Well, specifically, you said you could use additional methods to figure out why they were causing the most defects. Which is the trap, the mistake, I was referring to: assuming that the worst-performing n% is actually the result of the worst y. It's only natural to, as you put it, assume that they're "causing" the most defects (or, to explode the analogy, the worst students) -- but as study after study shows, this isn't actually the case.
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Pete at Home
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It seems grotesque to me that teachers get judged on the absolute performance on standardized tests of students who just moved into their classrooms. That's screwed up.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Adam,

I've read the entire college teacher curriculum (during college a education major friend of mine I'd borrow her textbooks and read them), also I have a strong background in statistics, evaluation design, education testing design etc.

Based on that, I'm fairly confident what you have learned about test design etc. is much less sophisticated than what was taught in my stats and testing design related courses in my psychology curriculum and my independent learning.


I don't doubt that you are much more conversant in statistics in general and specifically regarding standardized tests. I think you are coming from the perspective of knowing a lot about statistics, and less about teaching and learning.

quote:
quote:
I'm in favor of real, effective and valid evaluations;
So who do you think is in favor of imaginary, ineffective and invalid evaluations?


You (among others). More specifically, I think you are in favor of teacher evaluations that you mistakenly believe to be valid and effective.

quote:
quote:
where teaching practice is observed directly by knowledgeable and experienced professionals
You mean teachers watch teachers and evaluate teachers? Or principal sits in on a lesson for an hour? This is already used and the current methodology is apparently a predetermined lesson at a predetermined time which allows the teacher to game the system. It has been shown to be pretty useless in its current incarnation. Something that might work is to have observation videos in classrooms that are watched at random by evaluators unaffiliated with the district, teacher, etc. Also the evaluator could be assigned some preevaluated footage that had been pregraded to be sure that the evaluator can grade in a standardized fashion. (Ie so you don't get evaluators who give all teachers no matter how awful glowing recommendations...).

I mean observation by senior teachers and administrators, and it works. What you have described is a butchering of the process; I don't doubt that its what happens some places, but its not what people are talking about when they refer to evaluation through observation.

In general, your insistence on remove is possibly as problematic as your faith in statistical analysis. Education decisions should always be made as close to the student/teacher interaction as possible; this is an axiom that is overwhelmingly true. Closer to the source means more relevant knowledge, and more stake in positive outcomes. Remove, on the other hand, doesn't eliminate bias, it just changes to a different set of biases. The best people to evaluate a teacher are other teachers and administrators from the same school and community. They will be familiar with the students, and their very complex sets of needs, and they are in the best position to give immediate and constructive feedback. The further you remove evaluations from the classroom, the less informed they become, the less relevant the feedback, and the more bureaucratic the process becomes. All in the name of an "objectivity" that is largely a fantasy.

More time should be built into the structure of schools for this to happen, and teachers and administrators should be continually educated on how to evaluate. For the latter, however, they already are; teachers actually live in a perpetual state of job training. In Maine, you lose certification in 5 years without a significant quantity of professional development. Evaluating teachers is still a core function of administrators, and I've seen it done very well just in my own district. I can also tell you that the relative rarity of observations is one of the biggest *complaints* voiced by members of my local (evil) teachers union. Budget cuts have depleted our administrative pool to the point where observations become increasingly impossible.

And really, that's where this whole thing is coming from: evaluating by standardized tests is cheap, and mass firing followed by new hires is also cheap. Its not about fixing any problems, its about saving money.

quote:

quote:
and feedback is gathered and processed from all of the stakeholders in education; students, administrators, parents, and community representatives.
What particular feedback do you think each 'stakeholder' should give. It has been shown that parents are generally clueless and will give glowing recommendations or condemnations essentially unrelated to teacher performance. Not sure what 'feedback' from administrators would be of value - they could certainly offer their opinion as to the administrative burden that the teacher has. As to students - they've been shown to be quite good at evaluating good teachers (for 4th grade and older). Also not sure what 'community representatives' means in this context, and what value they could provide.

Those are the immediate stakeholders in a community's school: student, parent, teacher, administrator, community member. That is the level at which the best decisions tend to be made.

quote:

quote:
I'm in favor of formative teacher assessment, where a teacher is expected to refine their method based on those assessments. And I'm in favor of accountability, where teachers who cannot or will not improve their job performance are replaced.
Pretty sure teachers should know how to teach before being hired, if they can't do so, then why not fire them immediately instead of give them the chance for improvement. If you think teacher education is inadequate to prepare teachers to be competent, then suggest reform to teacher education. Why should students be subjected to teacher incompetence to allow teachers time to improve? This is perhaps the job where 'time to improve' should least be allowed given the long term harm the teacher can do.

This is what makes me think your knowledge of teaching is lacking. New teachers aren't good. Universally. The best teacher in the United States was a relatively bad teacher when they started. Its got nothing to do with teacher education, its simply the fact that teaching is complex in myriad un-quantifiable ways. You *have* to learn it by doing it.

Our system for this is pretty good. Teachers and administrators expect new teachers to need to go through this process, and with the proper support, they can develop the experience they need, and the needs of the students can also be met. You can generally see who *will be* a good teacher, but its ludicrous to expect them to perform as well as a veteran when they walk in the door.

Students *cannot* learn when certain social and emotional needs are not being met. This is beyond dispute in psychology, and teachers have probably known it experientially in their field for much longer. Identifying and meeting those needs is an interpersonal skill that is nearly impossible to teach as an abstraction, and yet its something that a teacher *must* do *as a prerequisite* to student learning. Good teachers do this well, but even they will do it better their 15th year than they did their 10th. I can't imagine any teacher *anywhere* who wouldn't find your assertion extremely ignorant regarding the most basic dynamics of teaching.

quote:

quote:
What I oppose is assessments based on magical thinking. Neither you nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever even *attempted* to connect the "objective" findings of testing to any actual teaching practices.
It doesn't really matter if they have been or haven't been connected to particular skills and attributes. That is the beauty of statistical analysis is that it doesn't need to know the why. Ie if you analyse the defect rate for a thousand different workers manufacturing widgets, you can find the worker who is contributing the most defects and then find out why they are causing the defects.

Again, this is almost a non-sequitor. Let me just say that the *why* does matter to people whose profession it is to teach, and it SHOULD.

You know, if there existed some kind of standardized-testing method that actually gave valid results about teacher effectiveness, then the vast majority of teachers and building administrators could tell you exactly how their staff would rank. This entire movement is about trying to replicate information that the people involved *already have*. It adds nothing, even if its perfected. In the meantime, its the driver of the most prominent destructive trends in education; loss of local control, movement *away from* student centered learning, and the downgrading of the professional quality of the nation's faculty. Really, its time, past time, to give it a rest. You haven't named a single concern that isn't BETTER addressed through numerous alternatives.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Regarding teacher salary - 'ED380435 - A Study of Factors Influencing Teacher Salaries in Vermont' seems to support that the biggest factors were teacher experience(ie years in the union) and education (highest education achievement).

What is the teacher characteristic with the highest correlation to student success? Years of experience. The only other measurable characteristic that had any predictive power was education, but then school districts started paying more for higher education and the system has been gamed enough that this doesn't mean anything anymore.


It is possible to statistically analyze student achievement in a valid way to tease out teacher influences on achievement. I have yet to see a state evaluation system that does so. Many educational researchers do this, but the decisions governing teacher evaluation are being made based on politics rather than research.

My master's degree is in Research and Evaluation Methodology from the College of Education at an R1 University. This is exactly my area of expertise.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
It seems grotesque to me that teachers get judged on the absolute performance on standardized tests of students who just moved into their classrooms. That's screwed up.

It is screwed up.

When I was a classroom teacher I had a coworker in the 6th grade who always took the worst of the incoming students. These were kids coming into 6th grade at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. By the end of the year she would have them up to 4th or 5th grade work, but would always get failing grades from the state because her 6th graders weren't finishing the year at a 6th grade level. Fortunately we had a principal who understood education and ignored the state's declaration that this was a failing teacher.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
And really, that's where this whole thing is coming from: evaluating by standardized tests is cheap, and mass firing followed by new hires is also cheap. Its not about fixing any problems, its about saving money.

The way it has been done so far, it does look like this is true.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
And really, that's where this whole thing is coming from: evaluating by standardized tests is cheap, and mass firing followed by new hires is also cheap. Its not about fixing any problems, its about saving money.

The way it has been done so far, it does look like this is true.
If I was to expand on this, I would say that the point of the standardization movement is to appease genuine calls for reform with a seemingly productive step than in reality just skims funding.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
It seems grotesque to me that teachers get judged on the absolute performance on standardized tests of students who just moved into their classrooms. That's screwed up.

It is screwed up.

When I was a classroom teacher I had a coworker in the 6th grade who always took the worst of the incoming students. These were kids coming into 6th grade at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. By the end of the year she would have them up to 4th or 5th grade work, but would always get failing grades from the state because her 6th graders weren't finishing the year at a 6th grade level. Fortunately we had a principal who understood education and ignored the state's declaration that this was a failing teacher.

Sounds like we've stumbled onto a political topic where you and I are passionately agreed.

Scary, eh? [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
And really, that's where this whole thing is coming from: evaluating by standardized tests is cheap, and mass firing followed by new hires is also cheap. Its not about fixing any problems, its about saving money.

The way it has been done so far, it does look like this is true.
If I was to expand on this, I would say that the point of the standardization movement is to appease genuine calls for reform with a seemingly productive step than in reality just skims funding.
Isn't that generally what government does? Picks our pockets in order to appease our concerns with appearances?

We had a series of news articles here in Vegas about how undermanned the police were, and there was a proposition to raise taxes to raise the police budget. I voted for it. Most people did. It passed. They jacked up the salaries of the top brass, then cut officer salaries three times, and didn't add anyone to the rolls.

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LetterRip
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Philnotfil.

quote:
What is the teacher characteristic with the highest correlation to student success? Years of experience. The only other measurable characteristic that had any predictive power was education, but then school districts started paying more for higher education and the system has been gamed enough that this doesn't mean anything anymore.
Years of experience only has benefit in the first 3 years or so. After that additional years provide no benefit, indeed it begins to become negatively correlated towards the end of the career (5 to 10 years before retirement).

quote:
When I was a classroom teacher I had a coworker in the 6th grade who always took the worst of the incoming students. These were kids coming into 6th grade at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. By the end of the year she would have them up to 4th or 5th grade work, but would always get failing grades from the state because her 6th graders weren't finishing the year at a 6th grade level. Fortunately we had a principal who understood education and ignored the state's declaration that this was a failing teacher.
VAM would show her as an extraordinary teacher.

Adam

quote:
Again, this is almost a non-sequitor. Let me just say that the *why* does matter to people whose profession it is to teach, and it SHOULD.
I was pointing out that the why is irrelevant from the mathematical and effectiveness perspectives. I think it is useful to try and determine the why, since it can provide faster convergence.

Regarding your assertion that new teachers are universally less effective, teach America teachers are generally equally or more effective than veteran teachers

quote:
Teach For America is among the most effective sources of new teachers in low-income communities, according to studies about the impact of different teacher-preparation programs in Louisiana (PDF), North Carolina, and Tennessee. Each of these statewide studies, conducted between 2009 and 2012, found that corps members often help their students achieve academic gains at rates equal to or larger than those for students of more veteran teachers.
http://www.teachforamerica.org/m/our-organization/research

Can't address more stuff right now since typing on my phone is driving me nuts.

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PSRT
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When I see Letterrip's posts on education, I always make a mental note to myself his response to "Different people find different things interesting." "But Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin isn't interesting!"

Its a statement that gets right at the heart of why, to anyone who knows anything about educating students, Letterip's insights on the subject have negative value to understanding.

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yossarian22c
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LR, statistical analysis can do great things. However standardized tests are an abysmal way to measure student learning. They are an excellent way to measure how good students are at taking standardized tests.

You often do not need to know how to solve a math problem if you are given a list of answers to choice from. Students can look at the answers and work backwards to see which one is correct. Students who make big errors are rewarded over students who make small common errors because a big error will often result in an answer not listed while small common errors will be listed in the answer choices. Hence the kid who has no clue has a 1/4 or 1/5 chance of getting the right answer where the kid who mostly understood gets the problem wrong.

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LetterRip
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PSRT,

Ah yes, if the facts aren't on your side try and discredit your opponent. Might I suggest a logic class? Also the quote doesn't turn up in search so I can't tell if it is accurate or what context it has. Though honestly, unless you are a descendent of Eli Whitney, I seriously doubt that anyone cares the name of the inventor. The interesting thing was the invention itself and the impact it had. So tell me, why do you think anyone other than his descendants would find his name as inventor ad opposed to say Bob Davis, or even if the name of the inventor was unknown? Actually I think I recall the context - I was objecting to history test questions of "what is the name of the inventor of the cotton gin?" And questions of "in what year did Columbus discover America?" The memorization of two useless facts, and a I was arguing for questions of "what economic and social impact did the invention of the cotton gin have?" Which demonstrates understanding of how technology can impact history. So by interesting I meant both in the literal sense (who cares other than his mom what the name was?) And in the educational value (knowing the name of the inventor is useless except for trivial pursuit, knowing that technology can drastically change the course of history is a valuable lesson).

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
LR, statistical analysis can do great things. However standardized tests are an abysmal way to measure student learning. They are an excellent way to measure how good students are at taking standardized tests.

You often do not need to know how to solve a math problem if you are given a list of answers to choice from. Students can look at the answers and work backwards to see which one is correct. Students who make big errors are rewarded over students who make small common errors because a big error will often result in an answer not listed while small common errors will be listed in the answer choices. Hence the kid who has no clue has a 1/4 or 1/5 chance of getting the right answer where the kid who mostly understood gets the problem wrong.

Many standardized tests are now including open-response items in math, exactly for this reason.
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Mynnion
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Chicago Tribune Blog

I have a friend that teaches 2nd grade in the CPS. She posted this so I thought I'd share.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
Chicago Tribune Blog

I have a friend that teaches 2nd grade in the CPS. She posted this so I thought I'd share.

Great link; here's the money quote:

"Analyses of (value-added model) results have led researchers to doubt whether the methodology can accurately identify more and less effective teachers. (Value-added model) estimates have proven to be unstable across statistical models, years and classes that teachers teach.

One study found that across five large urban districts, among teachers who were ranked in the top 20 percent of effectiveness in the first year, fewer than a third were in that top group the next year, and another third moved all the way down to the bottom 40 percent.

Another found that teachers' effectiveness ratings in one year could only predict from 4 percent to 16 percent of the variation in such ratings in the following year. "

There's a couple of actually separate issues here. There is the question of "are value-added models currently valid?" to which we can very safely say no, even to the best of them. Then there is the question of "can they ever possibly be valid?", to which I would also say no (I think I've described why above). But, for me, the most important point is that *even if they were valid*, its still a horrible system, because it concretizes the standardization of education. Its the factory model of education that is the real problem, much more so than faulty tests.

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LetterRip
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Adam,

that article trots out the same critiques - and when you actually look at the critiques they all do the same mistakes or misleading presentations. They do things like use quartile instability instead raw score instability - quartile instability exaggerates the instability since a variance of say 5 percentage points of performance you will end up with 20% of all scores changing quartiles. (Ie a score within 5 percentage points of the edge has a significant chance of changing quartiles).

Or the 'sorting effects' we can easily spot sorting effects since they retroactively predict performance. Then this can be readily accounted for - also sorting effects tend to be that good students seek out good teachers. Thus they don't have a negative impact on our goal (identifying good teachers and bad teachers).

Or they talk about how difficult students impact scores (ESL, etc.) - but this is fully expected and readily accounted for.

The article asks 'why are good teachers afraid' - the answer is they are poorly informed and being mislead by those who fear them for legitimate reasons (ie bad teachers). Also the most benefit of VAM is for really good teachers - since it gives an objective distinction among which are the best and which are merely average, and average teachers want to be paid as if they were among the best teachers, and thus they have no desire to have an objective method of determining that they are not among the best of teachers - ie the typical methods of determining pay favor mediocrity (longevity) and are easily gamed (attained education), whereas based on who helps students learn the best isn't really possible to game (or the methods to game it can be remedied by better quality testing).

[ September 14, 2012, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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yossarian22c
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LR, standardized tests are bad tools to measure student achievement. Will the increased pressure make some bad teachers better, probably. But it will make many good teachers average and probably drive great ones away from the profession. The Chinese use high stakes testing to evaluate teachers and students. Here is a description of what it is like from an American exchange student.

quote:
...
The purpose of Chinese high school is to prepare for the gaokao, an all-important test offered only once per year. Your score determines where – or if – you go to college — nothing else is considered. Test scores also determine teacher salaries. Calling it a high-stakes test would be an understatement; it is the high-stakes test, the only thing that matters, to students, parents, and educators.

At first, I was okay with this. Like school reform advocates in the U.S., I believed that it was fine to “teach to” a well-written test – and because the gaokao was so important, it was very well-written. Any teacher who “taught to” the gaokao, I imagined, could only teach concepts, not rote memorization. The questions were too difficult and unpredictable for that to answer them, you needed to understand ideas. There was no way around it.

Except, there was. Analyzing thousands of questions from past exams, teachers in all disciplines have inventoried every type of question that might be asked, and provided precise formulas for each one.

This was the only way, I realized, that teachers could ensure success for their students. In America, students are taught only broader concepts, applicable to many problems. This allows for a lighter workload, but applying the concepts to new situations is difficult. Really understanding complicated mathematical functions requires a certain intuition that not every student will necessarily develop. China’s recipe books provide an appealing solution: parents know their children can always improve if they study longer, students know college is within reach if they memorize the algorithms, and teachers know their jobs are safe if every student passes the exam. The classes were only incidentally about the subjects they purported to teach. They were really about taking tests.
...

ny times op ed

When you advocate for high stakes testing, no matter how good the statistical analysis, that is the education system that will result. That kind of high school is little more than 4 years of tedium and minutia for the student. They will learn very little and learn to think even less.

[ September 14, 2012, 08:42 PM: Message edited by: yossarian22c ]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Philnotfil.

quote:
What is the teacher characteristic with the highest correlation to student success? Years of experience. The only other measurable characteristic that had any predictive power was education, but then school districts started paying more for higher education and the system has been gamed enough that this doesn't mean anything anymore.
Years of experience only has benefit in the first 3 years or so. After that additional years provide no benefit, indeed it begins to become negatively correlated towards the end of the career (5 to 10 years before retirement).

quote:
When I was a classroom teacher I had a coworker in the 6th grade who always took the worst of the incoming students. These were kids coming into 6th grade at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. By the end of the year she would have them up to 4th or 5th grade work, but would always get failing grades from the state because her 6th graders weren't finishing the year at a 6th grade level. Fortunately we had a principal who understood education and ignored the state's declaration that this was a failing teacher.
VAM would show her as an extraordinary teacher.

Adam

quote:
Again, this is almost a non-sequitor. Let me just say that the *why* does matter to people whose profession it is to teach, and it SHOULD.
I was pointing out that the why is irrelevant from the mathematical and effectiveness perspectives. I think it is useful to try and determine the why, since it can provide faster convergence.

Regarding your assertion that new teachers are universally less effective, teach America teachers are generally equally or more effective than veteran teachers

quote:
Teach For America is among the most effective sources of new teachers in low-income communities, according to studies about the impact of different teacher-preparation programs in Louisiana (PDF), North Carolina, and Tennessee. Each of these statewide studies, conducted between 2009 and 2012, found that corps members often help their students achieve academic gains at rates equal to or larger than those for students of more veteran teachers.
http://www.teachforamerica.org/m/our-organization/research

Can't address more stuff right now since typing on my phone is driving me nuts.

One of these days I will make the time to respond to this. You deserve some research and citations, but I recently started a new job (in online education) and the 70 hour work weeks make actual research difficult to do. I have magic genies to deliver the news of the world to me, but they only deliver what is being reported, they are terrible at going out and doing actual research, someone needs to fix my computer so it can do that for me [Smile]
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LetterRip
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Philnotfil

Totally understand, I feel guilty every time I post since the time generally should be allocated to more important things. Also feel a bit guilty for not posting as much supporting docs, since I hate pulling numbers from memory which can be error prone, but again finding the original source takes more time than I can or should dedicate to what is ultimately a fairly pointless arguement since it wont change any outcomes etc...

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Philnotfil

Totally understand, I feel guilty every time I post since the time generally should be allocated to more important things. Also feel a bit guilty for not posting as much supporting docs, since I hate pulling numbers from memory which can be error prone, but again finding the original source takes more time than I can or should dedicate to what is ultimately a fairly pointless arguement since it wont change any outcomes etc...

I need some graduate students so that I can send them to go do lit reviews for me to post on internet message boards [Smile]
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Or the 'sorting effects' we can easily spot sorting effects since they retroactively predict performance. Then this can be readily accounted for...
You use words like "easily spot," "readily accounted for," "easily accounted for," etc. several times in the post that produced the sentences I quoted. But the trick -- and this is crucial -- is that this sort of analysis is not actually as easy as you're claiming, and confounding variables are not as readily accounted for (especially by groups prone to political bias).

Several people are replying to you saying, "all these statistical models are prone to terrible error that can unfairly ruin a teacher's career," to which your response is, "that can easily be remedied." Do you understand why that's oddly frustrating?

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by yossarian22c:
LR, statistical analysis can do great things. However standardized tests are an abysmal way to measure student learning. They are an excellent way to measure how good students are at taking standardized tests.

You often do not need to know how to solve a math problem if you are given a list of answers to choice from. Students can look at the answers and work backwards to see which one is correct. Students who make big errors are rewarded over students who make small common errors because a big error will often result in an answer not listed while small common errors will be listed in the answer choices. Hence the kid who has no clue has a 1/4 or 1/5 chance of getting the right answer where the kid who mostly understood gets the problem wrong.

Many standardized tests are now including open-response items in math, exactly for this reason.
True, however the tests (due to limited funding) have to be written and graded in a way that is easily automated. Those types of problems barely scratch the surface of what mathematics is really about. The answers are given by algorithms. It is essentially the equivalent of a English standardized test being a list of vocabulary words and definitions for students to match. Knowing algorithms to solve problems is important, just like knowing vocabulary is important. However what mathematics is about: logic, creativity, and problem solving are all absent in those types of problems. The increased standardization in mathematics will produce students who are really error prone slow versions of CAS (computer algebra system) software. They can go from A to B but they don't know why. The new common core standards in math try to improve on students being able to model real world problems with mathematics and understand what is going on. But testing those skills in a standardized, timed, computer graded exam is extremely difficult if not impossible.

Let me try to state my main point as clearly as I can.

Standardized tests are a horrible measure of student learning.

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