Let’s Not Leave Teachers’ Effectiveness to Chance

April 30th, 2013

Category: Policy and Practice

As a new teacher, we all understand – the first year inside a classroom is hard. Really hard. It’s a time when we go from imagining what our classroom might look like to the reality of getting it done day in and day out. However, when we look at our schools today, it’s clear that very few people, if any, give it the attention it deserves – leaving teachers’ development and effectiveness to chance. 

Recognizing this reality, TNTP sought to find out what new teacher performance looked like and what it takes to improve novice educator’s craft inside classrooms. The findings can be found in their recently released report, Leap Year. The report summarizes the results of their Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE), which utilizes multiple data points, including classroom observations, student surveys, student growth data, and principal ratings in order to determine the overall effectiveness of the over 1,000 novice teachers in 15 TNTP programs throughout the country.

For starters, not all teachers start off the same. Some walk in and perform well from the start. Some need a lot of support in order to improve. However, where a teacher starts is a pretty good predictor of what their growth trajectory will look like throughout the year. And, more importantly, the multiple measures ACE utilizes tend to point towards the same conclusion about a teacher’s impact inside the classroom. In addition to where they start and finish, certain characteristics are predictive of how they’ll grow in between. First year teachers that can predict students’ needs, design and facilitate structured lessons, and utilize deep content expertise are more likely to grow and be successful than their peers.  

What’s really interesting, though, is how TNTP restructured their new teacher support this year to ensure they got the “launch” skills necessary for classroom success. These include maintaining high academic and behavioral expectations, delivering academic content clearly, and maximizing instructional time. Based on current results, teachers who master those subsequently master all other ACE components – demonstrating the importance of the fundamentals of teaching.

Looking at the results, I’m extremely heartened by two recent developments here in Delaware. First, with the unveiling of legislation aimed at improving teacher preparation, Delaware is fixating our eyes right on many of the issues outlined in this report. Through high-quality student teaching experiences, rigorous content exams to ensure content knowledge, and expansion of programs with track records of success, we are poised to raise the bar on the quality of our teaching workforce – which will pay immeasurable dividends for our students. And second, with the release of the report Delaware Educator Diagnostic, An Analysis of the First State’s Teaching Force, we are starting to get a better understanding of teachers working in our schools and areas we need to address as a state.

Looking ahead, I’m all smiles as I start to see significant interest in and movement towards ensuring the training is right and supports in place to ensure all novice educators have a launching pad capable of propelling them to success in their first year and beyond.

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Brett Turner




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