Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shanker Blog » The Language Of Teacher Effectiveness

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The Language Of Teacher Effectiveness

Posted by  on July 10, 2014

There is a tendency in education circles these days, one that I’m sure has been discussed by others, and of which I myself have been “guilty,” on countless occasions. The tendency is to use terms such “effective/ineffective teacher” or “teacher performance” interchangeably with estimates from value-added and other growth models.
Now, to be clear, I personally am not opposed to the use of value-added estimates in teacher evaluations and other policies, so long as it is done cautiously and appropriately (which, in my view, is not happening in very many places). Moreover, based on my reading of the research, I believe that these estimates can provide useful information about teachers’ performance in the classroom. In short, then, I am not disputing whether value-added scores should be considered to be one useful proxy measure for teacher performance and effectiveness (and described as such), both formally and informally.
Regardless of one’s views on value-added and its policy deployment, however, there is a point at which our failure to define terms can go too far, and perhaps cause confusion.
For one thing, I’m starting to get concerned that too many people, particularly those outside of education, may take terms such as “performance” and “effectiveness” at face value. Upon hearing these incredibly powerful words, they may not be aware that they almost always are defined — when they’re used in empirical arguments — in terms of Shanker Blog » The Language Of Teacher Effectiveness: