TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

The best research of 2017!

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We asked and you delivered!

Thank you for sharing your favorite and most useful teacher quality research articles from 2017. Some of you used these research articles as a foundation for your school leadership to have meaningful conversations. Others used the research to provide teacher candidates at your teacher preparation programs with current, relevant research to inform their practice.

However you used this research, we would like to thank you for your desire to learn more about teacher quality so that all students have effective teachers and that all teachers have the opportunity and support to become effective.

Without further ado, here are some of the research articles that stood out to you:

TQB Subscribers' Personal Favorite Study:

Data, data everywhere, but not a drop to drink!

Cannata, M., Rubin, M., Goldring, E., Grissom, J., Neumerski, C., Drake, T., & Schuermann, P. (2017). Using Teacher Effectiveness Data for Information-Rich Hiring.

Despite the current data-soaked education environment, this study made one thing clear: the distance between data collection and data use is long. Principals have access to data on teachers when they are making hiring decisions, but they often have difficulty figuring out the best way to use this information. This study examines this challenge and identifies ways that district central offices can better communicate with principals on how to use data to make the most informed hiring decisions. 

Study That Gave New Perspective:

Exciting findings: could mentor training be the secret sauce in new teacher induction?

Schmidt, R., Young, V., Cassidy, L., Wang, H., & Laguarda, K. (2017). Impact of the New Teacher Center's New Teacher Induction Model on Teachers and Students.

You shared our enthusiasm for findings that suggest the New Teacher Center's (NTC) induction model result in up to five months of additional student learning. Districts spend on average $18,000 per teacher every year on professional development, with little to show for it. A recent study on the NTC's approach may support districts in their efforts to change this narrative.

Read more about some of the attributes that yielded such dramatic learning gains.

Study That Helped Inform Beliefs On Policies/Practices:

The possibilities of student teaching.

Gerdeman, R., Wan, Y., Molefe, A., Bos, J., Zhu, B., & Dhillon, S. (2017). Impact of TNTP's Teaching Fellows in Urban School Districts

We have always felt that student teaching has the possibility to transform teacher quality for districts and school systems across the country. As this study shows, teacher preparation programs should take note of the impact that the student teaching experience could have for their teacher candidates.

The study examined the impact of TNTP's Teaching Fellows program, in which teachers are trained during the summer and then provided with coaching and instruction for a year while they teach in a classroom--a whole year of student teaching. Despite working under a condensed time frame with regard to course work and training, the study found that the program has produced teachers of about the same quality as those who enter the classroom from even traditional teacher preparation programs. 

Most Shared Study:

Everyone loves a myth-buster!

Isenberg, E., Max, J., Gleason, P., Johnson, M., Deutsch, J., & Hansen, M. (2016). Do Low-Income Students Have Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Evidence from 26 Districts.

This study sets out to measure the "effective teaching gap," or the discrepancy in students' access to effective teachers depending on their socioeconomic status (SES). To the surprise of many, almost all of the 26 urban districts in the study turned out to be providing all students, no matter what their SES, with roughly the same access to effective teachers.

Some of these results were attributed to the intentional work of districts to promote equitable distribution of teachers across all schools, including comprehensive teacher induction, highly selective alternative routes to teaching, targeted use of bonuses, performance pay, and early hiring timelines in high-need schools.

There is still conflicting literature on this issue related to the effective teacher gap. For more, read this CALDER brief which does a good job of breaking down the matter. 

Interesting Study That Deserves Further Research:

We have so much more to learn about teacher evaluations. 

Grissom, J., & Loeb, S. (2017). Assessing Principals' Assessments: Subjective Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness in Low- and High-Stakes Environments.

This study from Jason Grissom of Vanderbilt and Susanna Loeb of UCLA knocked the socks off many in the education community by investigating how principals evaluate teachers formally versus how they view them privately. They selected roughly 100 principals from Miami-Dade Public Schools, asking them in interviews to evaluate four of their teachers. The rubric they used mirrored the district's formal evaluation framework.

We already knew that formal evaluation ratings are overwhelmingly high--principals rated fewer than one percent of their teachers as "ineffective" or "needs improvement" on any standard except professionalism. But in the informal setting, while principals still rated most of their teachers on the high end, they were tougher than they were on the formal evaluation, rating roughly 20 percent of their teachers as "ineffective" or "needs improvement".

There is a silver lining. Yes, principals are reluctant to speak the truth, but the two sets of ratings did correlate. The teachers rated lower on the informal ratings were the lower rated teachers on the formal ratings. Better yet, both ratings correlated with teacher value-added scores, meaning that principals know good teaching from not-so-good teaching--they just don't call it out.