Teachers good and bad

The California teachers’ union is calling for a boycott of the L.A. Times for publishing an expose of teacher performance.  Here are some of its findings:

• Highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year. There is a substantial gap at year’s end between students whose teachers were in the top 10% in effectiveness and the bottom 10%. The fortunate students ranked 17 percentile points higher in English and 25 points higher in math.

• Some students landed in the classrooms of the poorest-performing instructors year after year — a potentially devastating setback that the district could have avoided. Over the period analyzed, more than 8,000 students got such a math or English teacher at least twice in a row.

• Contrary to popular belief, the best teachers were not concentrated in schools in the most affluent neighborhoods, nor were the weakest instructors bunched in poor areas. Rather, these teachers were scattered throughout the district. The quality of instruction typically varied far more within a school than between schools.

• Although many parents fixate on picking the right school for their child, it matters far more which teacher the child gets. Teachers had three times as much influence on students’ academic development as the school they attend. Yet parents have no access to objective information about individual instructors, and they often have little say in which teacher their child gets.

• Many of the factors commonly assumed to be important to teachers’ effectiveness were not. Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved their students’ performance.

Other studies of the district have found that students’ race, wealth, English proficiency or previous achievement level played little role in whether their teacher was effective.

via L.A. teacher ratings: L.A. Times analysis rates teachers’ effectiveness – latimes.com.

It seems that some people have a vocation for teaching.  Let’s focus on the positive.  What are traits of good teachers?  Tell about good teachers who were able to get through to you.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    I believe Malcolm Gladwell’s book “What the Dog Saw” makes these same points about teacher competence and its impact on students. Maybe the teachers’ union should have a book burning featuring Gladwell.

  • http://www.johndcook.com/blog John

    I believe Malcolm Gladwell’s book “What the Dog Saw” makes these same points about teacher competence and its impact on students. Maybe the teachers’ union should have a book burning featuring Gladwell.

  • http://www.missyween.com missy

    The great teachers I remember were those who treated their students with respect and kindness, while holding us to a consistently high standard. And when it was apparent that they loved their work, that love was contagious!

  • http://www.missyween.com missy

    The great teachers I remember were those who treated their students with respect and kindness, while holding us to a consistently high standard. And when it was apparent that they loved their work, that love was contagious!

  • Pete

    It has been my feeling for quite some time that it is a serious societal problem that someone can get paid unimaginable sums of money for relatively inconsequential skills – hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball, etc. – while school teachers often have to get a second job to make ends meet. It’s a problem that will catch up with us eventually and, I fear, already has.
    While the findings above would seem to not show a correlation between teacher salary and teacher performance, I can’t help but think that we would attract more of the brightest and best if it were more lucrative.
    Not that that’s the whole story. I’ve often seen references as to how the Catholic school system consistently out-performs the public schools despite much less expenditure per student.
    And I think all of us have encountered teachers who were “meant” to be teachers – truly had found their vocation.

  • Pete

    It has been my feeling for quite some time that it is a serious societal problem that someone can get paid unimaginable sums of money for relatively inconsequential skills – hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball, etc. – while school teachers often have to get a second job to make ends meet. It’s a problem that will catch up with us eventually and, I fear, already has.
    While the findings above would seem to not show a correlation between teacher salary and teacher performance, I can’t help but think that we would attract more of the brightest and best if it were more lucrative.
    Not that that’s the whole story. I’ve often seen references as to how the Catholic school system consistently out-performs the public schools despite much less expenditure per student.
    And I think all of us have encountered teachers who were “meant” to be teachers – truly had found their vocation.

  • http://debsueknit.blogspot.com DebbieQ

    This applies to private Christian schools as well, as we would attest. An inferior teacher, two years in a row, will harm and hamper to be sure.

  • http://debsueknit.blogspot.com DebbieQ

    This applies to private Christian schools as well, as we would attest. An inferior teacher, two years in a row, will harm and hamper to be sure.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The best teachers I had were those who saw the big picture; more or less to envision what a truly educated person is, and drive relentlessly towards that goal. (and the worst teachers; those who had the wrong big picture, and drove relentlessly towards that goal)

    It would be interesting to see a correlation between acceptance of what is taught at schools of education and success as a teacher. I am guessing the correlation would be negative.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The best teachers I had were those who saw the big picture; more or less to envision what a truly educated person is, and drive relentlessly towards that goal. (and the worst teachers; those who had the wrong big picture, and drove relentlessly towards that goal)

    It would be interesting to see a correlation between acceptance of what is taught at schools of education and success as a teacher. I am guessing the correlation would be negative.

  • Joe

    Pete – I think it would be a heck of a lot easier to encourage those with a the vocation of teaching to enter the field if it were to once again become a profession (i.e. not unionized). If teachers were evaluated and compensated on performance instead of longevity, then the system would have the correct incentive structure. No longer would people go into teaching because they get 3 months off and good benefits. (several of my college friends became teachers for no other reason).

    I think this would completely reimage teachers in the minds of many – and in a positive light. As it stands now, many have a negative reaction to “teachers” in the abstract because the first thing that pops into their mind is union and stories like this:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/100108249.html

  • Joe

    Pete – I think it would be a heck of a lot easier to encourage those with a the vocation of teaching to enter the field if it were to once again become a profession (i.e. not unionized). If teachers were evaluated and compensated on performance instead of longevity, then the system would have the correct incentive structure. No longer would people go into teaching because they get 3 months off and good benefits. (several of my college friends became teachers for no other reason).

    I think this would completely reimage teachers in the minds of many – and in a positive light. As it stands now, many have a negative reaction to “teachers” in the abstract because the first thing that pops into their mind is union and stories like this:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/100108249.html

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete, I’ll second some of what Joe said. I’ll also point out that I’ve never met a poor teacher who had trouble “making ends meet.” I have several public school teachers in my family, and there are many of them in my circle of friends and acquaintances. All of them are doing just fine for themselves. If you have a desire to work with children, teaching would seem to be a desirable career choice, in fact.

    In short, I don’t think the “secret” to reforming our educational system has much to do with raising the salaries of its teachers.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete, I’ll second some of what Joe said. I’ll also point out that I’ve never met a poor teacher who had trouble “making ends meet.” I have several public school teachers in my family, and there are many of them in my circle of friends and acquaintances. All of them are doing just fine for themselves. If you have a desire to work with children, teaching would seem to be a desirable career choice, in fact.

    In short, I don’t think the “secret” to reforming our educational system has much to do with raising the salaries of its teachers.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Does anybody else find it ironic that a profession that is partly based on the evaluation of another persons performance is upset that somebody decided to evaluate their performance?

    Good teacher qualities
    love of kids
    love of subject
    actually knows the subject they teach
    able to control a crowd without resorting to punitive measures
    continually strives to improve their skills and knowledge base.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Does anybody else find it ironic that a profession that is partly based on the evaluation of another persons performance is upset that somebody decided to evaluate their performance?

    Good teacher qualities
    love of kids
    love of subject
    actually knows the subject they teach
    able to control a crowd without resorting to punitive measures
    continually strives to improve their skills and knowledge base.

  • Jason

    I’m imagining a school that would have all highly effective teachers and what that would for the kids that go there. Can you imagine boys that want to go to school because they enjoy it and are actually learning with joy. I know to many horror stories of boys being beat down by thier teachers.

    What I find interesting is that we have teachers that have gone into teaching because of the job description, and no sense of vocation for the position, teaching our children the same ideals. Get a job that fits your wants and desires, not vocation, apptitude, or gifting. The result is we have doctors that hate being doctors, lawyers that hate being lawyers, teachers that hate being teachers, you can name almost any profession and see that people are doing it for the wrong reasons, money, job description, or prestige.

    I would guess that the highly effective teachers are able to help children focus on what they want to do as well, not only help them with thier grades, but also can help the child see what thier vocation might be.

    I would add that to the list of Good teacher qualitites

    Good teacher qualities
    love of kids
    love of subject
    actually knows the subject they teach
    able to control a crowd without resorting to punitive measures
    continually strives to improve their skills and knowledge base.
    Able to help students discern thier own vocation

  • Jason

    I’m imagining a school that would have all highly effective teachers and what that would for the kids that go there. Can you imagine boys that want to go to school because they enjoy it and are actually learning with joy. I know to many horror stories of boys being beat down by thier teachers.

    What I find interesting is that we have teachers that have gone into teaching because of the job description, and no sense of vocation for the position, teaching our children the same ideals. Get a job that fits your wants and desires, not vocation, apptitude, or gifting. The result is we have doctors that hate being doctors, lawyers that hate being lawyers, teachers that hate being teachers, you can name almost any profession and see that people are doing it for the wrong reasons, money, job description, or prestige.

    I would guess that the highly effective teachers are able to help children focus on what they want to do as well, not only help them with thier grades, but also can help the child see what thier vocation might be.

    I would add that to the list of Good teacher qualitites

    Good teacher qualities
    love of kids
    love of subject
    actually knows the subject they teach
    able to control a crowd without resorting to punitive measures
    continually strives to improve their skills and knowledge base.
    Able to help students discern thier own vocation

  • Reg Schofield

    Speaking from a Canadian perspective and one of my best friends being a teacher, from what we have talked about , I would say 5 things make a great teacher.
    1. Passion for the art of teaching. If you get into this vocation without a heart for kids and a love to instruct them , then stay away . If its just the pay and perks(living in Nova Scotian our teachers are paid really well) you will do a disservice to the children under your care.
    2. Hard work . This includes understanding the subjects you will be teaching. My friend spends time knowing the subjects he teaches inside out and tries to find fun ways to engage his class.
    3. Discipline and expectations. He expects respect and runs a tight classroom . Respecting his students but at the same time realizing structure is needed . He is the teacher , not their friend .Plus making it clear he expects work and effort .He lays out his expectations from the very first day what is expected and does not deviate.
    4. Have fun. Although he runs a tight ship , his love for what he does and for the kids he teaches ,shines through. He interacts with them and lets them know he wants them to succeed at the best level they can. He makes himself available for tutoring and extra help.
    5. Rest and relaxation. To avoid burn out he cultivates life apart from the classroom. Plus he thinks learning new subjects helps in the same way.
    It must be working for him because the children wish they could have him again after he teaches them . Just a little plug for him , he has taken kids who were struggling in math to a B average or better.

    A great teacher can change a kids life . The same could be said of a bad one . Its a vocation that should demand the best and at the same time , pay really well .

  • Reg Schofield

    Speaking from a Canadian perspective and one of my best friends being a teacher, from what we have talked about , I would say 5 things make a great teacher.
    1. Passion for the art of teaching. If you get into this vocation without a heart for kids and a love to instruct them , then stay away . If its just the pay and perks(living in Nova Scotian our teachers are paid really well) you will do a disservice to the children under your care.
    2. Hard work . This includes understanding the subjects you will be teaching. My friend spends time knowing the subjects he teaches inside out and tries to find fun ways to engage his class.
    3. Discipline and expectations. He expects respect and runs a tight classroom . Respecting his students but at the same time realizing structure is needed . He is the teacher , not their friend .Plus making it clear he expects work and effort .He lays out his expectations from the very first day what is expected and does not deviate.
    4. Have fun. Although he runs a tight ship , his love for what he does and for the kids he teaches ,shines through. He interacts with them and lets them know he wants them to succeed at the best level they can. He makes himself available for tutoring and extra help.
    5. Rest and relaxation. To avoid burn out he cultivates life apart from the classroom. Plus he thinks learning new subjects helps in the same way.
    It must be working for him because the children wish they could have him again after he teaches them . Just a little plug for him , he has taken kids who were struggling in math to a B average or better.

    A great teacher can change a kids life . The same could be said of a bad one . Its a vocation that should demand the best and at the same time , pay really well .

  • CRB

    One absolute (perhaps #1?) MUST for a teacher of ANY
    worthwhile subject: he/she loves to learn!
    True, not every student will resonate to that, but those who do
    will be blessed!

  • CRB

    One absolute (perhaps #1?) MUST for a teacher of ANY
    worthwhile subject: he/she loves to learn!
    True, not every student will resonate to that, but those who do
    will be blessed!

  • GFW

    Another Canadian here…

    I was lucky enough to get some very good teachers for the later part of my school years (grades 8-12). In particular in the higher grades, students could elect to take harder “enriched” versions of classes, and those classes were typically taught by the better teachers. Morale amongst teachers was pretty low though, as their wages had been falling relative to other careers, and even relative to inflation. I suspect the overall quality of teachers has gone down as those who signed on before that period have retired.

    One thing about Canada vs the US – in Canada teachers go to real universities and may or may not major in education. I think the key to getting good teachers is societal *respect*. Pay is only part of that respect. Other aspects of respect are how politicians talk about teachers, how television and movies portray teachers, and how parents talk to their kids about teachers. The underlying current is how society views the value of education vs making money any way one can. In Canada, unionization was irrelevant – I’m not sure about that in the US. But I’m pretty sure that a moderate pay increase combined with considerable improvements in other forms of societal respect would attract better teachers again.

  • GFW

    Another Canadian here…

    I was lucky enough to get some very good teachers for the later part of my school years (grades 8-12). In particular in the higher grades, students could elect to take harder “enriched” versions of classes, and those classes were typically taught by the better teachers. Morale amongst teachers was pretty low though, as their wages had been falling relative to other careers, and even relative to inflation. I suspect the overall quality of teachers has gone down as those who signed on before that period have retired.

    One thing about Canada vs the US – in Canada teachers go to real universities and may or may not major in education. I think the key to getting good teachers is societal *respect*. Pay is only part of that respect. Other aspects of respect are how politicians talk about teachers, how television and movies portray teachers, and how parents talk to their kids about teachers. The underlying current is how society views the value of education vs making money any way one can. In Canada, unionization was irrelevant – I’m not sure about that in the US. But I’m pretty sure that a moderate pay increase combined with considerable improvements in other forms of societal respect would attract better teachers again.

  • Joe

    There seems to be a missing of the point going on. The pay scale and benefits for most unionized teachers in the US is too good to keep out the bad teachers. You can mail it in and make good money with no real threat of being fired. At the same time the pay scale fails to adequately compensate good and great teachers. The reason is the union and the current compensation model that it fights very hard to keep in place. It rewards your staying power not skill, dedication or talent.

    Increasing salaries without some other fundamental reforms will only further misincentive the market and attracted more bad teachers.

  • Joe

    There seems to be a missing of the point going on. The pay scale and benefits for most unionized teachers in the US is too good to keep out the bad teachers. You can mail it in and make good money with no real threat of being fired. At the same time the pay scale fails to adequately compensate good and great teachers. The reason is the union and the current compensation model that it fights very hard to keep in place. It rewards your staying power not skill, dedication or talent.

    Increasing salaries without some other fundamental reforms will only further misincentive the market and attracted more bad teachers.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Joe makes a great point–when I was in school, it was a reality that students dropping out of engineering tended to end up in teaching. Combine the reality of tenure with a political process which tends to actually obscure real education by assigning about 200 “deliverables” to teachers, and you’re asking for trouble.

    An example of how teachers can do well at “their subject” but fail to teach; my 7th grade math teacher could not come up with a real world example of how fractions are used in real life. If you can’t connect your subject with the rest of the world, you’re not educating.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Joe makes a great point–when I was in school, it was a reality that students dropping out of engineering tended to end up in teaching. Combine the reality of tenure with a political process which tends to actually obscure real education by assigning about 200 “deliverables” to teachers, and you’re asking for trouble.

    An example of how teachers can do well at “their subject” but fail to teach; my 7th grade math teacher could not come up with a real world example of how fractions are used in real life. If you can’t connect your subject with the rest of the world, you’re not educating.

  • Booklover

    A good teacher recognizes the gifts of each student, and encourages those gifts. If a fabulously artistic child keeps doodling rather than doing her math problems, tell her you’ll frame her lovely picture if she finishes her math, rather than punitively scrunching the paper.

    A good teacher will teach using the classical model–grammar first, then logic then rhetoric. Do not expect your students to be creative, to apply what they’ve learned, until you’ve given them the facts, the foundation, the basics, the building blocks. My advanced piano students are good because they know all of their basic scales. My husband coached his football teams to three city championships because they first spend oodles of time on fundamentals. There was a time when, in college education classes, teachers were taught to disdain the teaching of “facts.” I hope that is changing. Facts, the grammar of a subject, are the building blocks of logic and rhetoric.

    Teachers should love what they do and apply what they do in the real world. I have not understood a piano teacher who never performs.

    Good teachers teach in a logical, sequential manner–incrementally. Few children can draw an intelligent-looking picture without being taught the steps of drawing.

    And a good teacher has humor. She can laugh at her mistakes and accept her less-than-perfect students with abundant joy.

  • Booklover

    A good teacher recognizes the gifts of each student, and encourages those gifts. If a fabulously artistic child keeps doodling rather than doing her math problems, tell her you’ll frame her lovely picture if she finishes her math, rather than punitively scrunching the paper.

    A good teacher will teach using the classical model–grammar first, then logic then rhetoric. Do not expect your students to be creative, to apply what they’ve learned, until you’ve given them the facts, the foundation, the basics, the building blocks. My advanced piano students are good because they know all of their basic scales. My husband coached his football teams to three city championships because they first spend oodles of time on fundamentals. There was a time when, in college education classes, teachers were taught to disdain the teaching of “facts.” I hope that is changing. Facts, the grammar of a subject, are the building blocks of logic and rhetoric.

    Teachers should love what they do and apply what they do in the real world. I have not understood a piano teacher who never performs.

    Good teachers teach in a logical, sequential manner–incrementally. Few children can draw an intelligent-looking picture without being taught the steps of drawing.

    And a good teacher has humor. She can laugh at her mistakes and accept her less-than-perfect students with abundant joy.

  • Stephanie

    I’d like to point out that the teachers union is not the same as all Calirofnia teachers. Far from it.

    My mother is a high school math teacher, so I’m not entirely unbiased, but qualities she has that contribute to her effective teaching:
    1. She cares about her kids and she *likes* them. She attends their games, contributes when she can to their fundraisers, and shows an interest in their lives outside of the classroom. She once referred to her class full of gang-bangers in remedial math as “good kids.”
    2. She believes *anyone* can learn math. Some might have been scared off earlier in their education, but she truly believes that they can learn it. They might have to work at it, but they can do it.
    3. She insists that they do learn it. She does not tolerate cheating. She does not buckle under parental pressure to raise Susie’s or Johnny’s grade to protect their GPAs. (Yes, it happens. Frequently.)
    4. She is not satisfied unless she knows multiple ways to explain a mathematical concept since different people learn different ways. She is always, even as she approaches retirement, looking for new and better ways to teach so that kids learn and retain material. She was just offered a new class – a sort of slowed down version of Algebra for kids who have already failed Algebra once or twice. She’s spent 2 weeks looking for new approaches and games and activities and anything she can think of to get them through the class (required for graduation in her school). Despite the fact that she has taught normal Algebra classes for years. And Geometry. And Math Analysis. And Calculus. She knows the math cold. She knows teacing it cold. But she’s still looking for more ways to help the kids get it.
    5. She will not hesitate to call parents is a kid’s grades are slipping. She comes in at 6 a.m. (school starts at 8) to offer free drop-in tutoring to all comers. Kids actually show up for this. Maybe because she called their parents to inform them of the opportunity, but they show up.
    6. She’s still excited about her subject. We went to the mathematics display at the Science Museum in London (is that not what *everyone* does on their summer vacations? Visit math exhibits? No?) and she was mentally composing her letter on the ways they could improve the presentation as we left. Or not so much mentally as she was describing it all to me.

  • Stephanie

    I’d like to point out that the teachers union is not the same as all Calirofnia teachers. Far from it.

    My mother is a high school math teacher, so I’m not entirely unbiased, but qualities she has that contribute to her effective teaching:
    1. She cares about her kids and she *likes* them. She attends their games, contributes when she can to their fundraisers, and shows an interest in their lives outside of the classroom. She once referred to her class full of gang-bangers in remedial math as “good kids.”
    2. She believes *anyone* can learn math. Some might have been scared off earlier in their education, but she truly believes that they can learn it. They might have to work at it, but they can do it.
    3. She insists that they do learn it. She does not tolerate cheating. She does not buckle under parental pressure to raise Susie’s or Johnny’s grade to protect their GPAs. (Yes, it happens. Frequently.)
    4. She is not satisfied unless she knows multiple ways to explain a mathematical concept since different people learn different ways. She is always, even as she approaches retirement, looking for new and better ways to teach so that kids learn and retain material. She was just offered a new class – a sort of slowed down version of Algebra for kids who have already failed Algebra once or twice. She’s spent 2 weeks looking for new approaches and games and activities and anything she can think of to get them through the class (required for graduation in her school). Despite the fact that she has taught normal Algebra classes for years. And Geometry. And Math Analysis. And Calculus. She knows the math cold. She knows teacing it cold. But she’s still looking for more ways to help the kids get it.
    5. She will not hesitate to call parents is a kid’s grades are slipping. She comes in at 6 a.m. (school starts at 8) to offer free drop-in tutoring to all comers. Kids actually show up for this. Maybe because she called their parents to inform them of the opportunity, but they show up.
    6. She’s still excited about her subject. We went to the mathematics display at the Science Museum in London (is that not what *everyone* does on their summer vacations? Visit math exhibits? No?) and she was mentally composing her letter on the ways they could improve the presentation as we left. Or not so much mentally as she was describing it all to me.

  • Joe

    Stephanie said: “I’d like to point out that the teachers union is not the same as all Calirofnia teachers. Far from it.”

    This is most certainly true.

  • Joe

    Stephanie said: “I’d like to point out that the teachers union is not the same as all Calirofnia teachers. Far from it.”

    This is most certainly true.

  • rlewer

    I would like to recognize Roland Lassanske, principal, teacher, and founder of St. Paul Lutheran School in Harlingen, Texas 1947 – .

    1. He enjoyed teaching and his students.
    2. He expected us to do well.
    3. He enjoyed playing sports with us at recess.
    4. He caused me to think that becoming a teacher would be a good thing.

    A good teacher should:
    1. Enjoy learning and teaching.
    2. Love his students and share God’s love.
    3. Expect good things from his students.

    Aside: It seems to me that teaching was more fun when we taught all subjects and had the same students for several years in multi-grade classrooms.

  • rlewer

    I would like to recognize Roland Lassanske, principal, teacher, and founder of St. Paul Lutheran School in Harlingen, Texas 1947 – .

    1. He enjoyed teaching and his students.
    2. He expected us to do well.
    3. He enjoyed playing sports with us at recess.
    4. He caused me to think that becoming a teacher would be a good thing.

    A good teacher should:
    1. Enjoy learning and teaching.
    2. Love his students and share God’s love.
    3. Expect good things from his students.

    Aside: It seems to me that teaching was more fun when we taught all subjects and had the same students for several years in multi-grade classrooms.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What we are missing in this analysis is that within any class, school, or district, there is a mix of abilities and educational backgrounds among the students. Happy is the competent fourth grade teacher who gets the smart kids who had the incompetent teacher in third grade. They will make her look like a star. And woe to the fifth grade teacher who has to follow her because such gains cannot be repeated and at best only maintained.

    There is no magic.

    Multivariable regression analysis demonstrates that it is students not teachers that make the difference. Bad teachers can reduce academic growth among strong students, but even the very best teachers can bring up the weak ones just a little. The problem is determining which students are limited by ability vs. poor prior instruction. That is where Raven’s matrices come in. All students fall onto the curve that hasn’t changed since measurement began.

    “• Contrary to popular belief, the best teachers were not concentrated in schools in the most affluent neighborhoods, nor were the weakest instructors bunched in poor areas. Rather, these teachers were scattered throughout the district. The quality of instruction typically varied far more within a school than between schools.”

    Yeah, so what? Such is generally the case when comparing group averages. Difference in height is far more varied among men, and among women than the average difference between men and women. Duh. It is rather insulting to the reader when they seem to assume that somehow makes their point. Anyway, how are they defining “best teachers”? By student improvement? It is amazingly difficult to show improvement when you have good students because they start so high to begin with.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What we are missing in this analysis is that within any class, school, or district, there is a mix of abilities and educational backgrounds among the students. Happy is the competent fourth grade teacher who gets the smart kids who had the incompetent teacher in third grade. They will make her look like a star. And woe to the fifth grade teacher who has to follow her because such gains cannot be repeated and at best only maintained.

    There is no magic.

    Multivariable regression analysis demonstrates that it is students not teachers that make the difference. Bad teachers can reduce academic growth among strong students, but even the very best teachers can bring up the weak ones just a little. The problem is determining which students are limited by ability vs. poor prior instruction. That is where Raven’s matrices come in. All students fall onto the curve that hasn’t changed since measurement began.

    “• Contrary to popular belief, the best teachers were not concentrated in schools in the most affluent neighborhoods, nor were the weakest instructors bunched in poor areas. Rather, these teachers were scattered throughout the district. The quality of instruction typically varied far more within a school than between schools.”

    Yeah, so what? Such is generally the case when comparing group averages. Difference in height is far more varied among men, and among women than the average difference between men and women. Duh. It is rather insulting to the reader when they seem to assume that somehow makes their point. Anyway, how are they defining “best teachers”? By student improvement? It is amazingly difficult to show improvement when you have good students because they start so high to begin with.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ Pete

    “It has been my feeling for quite some time that it is a serious societal problem that someone can get paid unimaginable sums of money for relatively inconsequential skills – hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball, etc. – while school teachers often have to get a second job to make ends meet. It’s a problem that will catch up with us eventually and, I fear, already has.”

    Those who can hit a baseball fascinate us because they can do it, and we can’t. They are exceptional and amazing. We pay to see what amazes us. It seems only fair that these guys should make money from that ability. Why should team owners, merchandisers and broadcast companies get all the money we spend on watching sports?

    As for teachers, why would any highly able person want to put up with the crazy education world? Well, a few are just into it, but you can’t populate the entire education industry with such rarities. Those who could do a great job probably have too much respect for themselves to put up with the nonsense of education administration. They can get paid more under better conditions as doctors, or engineers, etc. In the past, many smart women went into teaching because they had fewer career opportunities. Teaching no longer attracts the best women. SAT scores are lowest among those who report they will be seeking teaching degrees. Smart women generally have moved on to other careers because now they can.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ Pete

    “It has been my feeling for quite some time that it is a serious societal problem that someone can get paid unimaginable sums of money for relatively inconsequential skills – hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball, etc. – while school teachers often have to get a second job to make ends meet. It’s a problem that will catch up with us eventually and, I fear, already has.”

    Those who can hit a baseball fascinate us because they can do it, and we can’t. They are exceptional and amazing. We pay to see what amazes us. It seems only fair that these guys should make money from that ability. Why should team owners, merchandisers and broadcast companies get all the money we spend on watching sports?

    As for teachers, why would any highly able person want to put up with the crazy education world? Well, a few are just into it, but you can’t populate the entire education industry with such rarities. Those who could do a great job probably have too much respect for themselves to put up with the nonsense of education administration. They can get paid more under better conditions as doctors, or engineers, etc. In the past, many smart women went into teaching because they had fewer career opportunities. Teaching no longer attracts the best women. SAT scores are lowest among those who report they will be seeking teaching degrees. Smart women generally have moved on to other careers because now they can.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If we want to figure out why athletes get such astronomical pay, take a look at who pays for the stadiums. In general, it’s a sales tax levy laid on the poor guys who never dream of occupying box seats on the first base line.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If we want to figure out why athletes get such astronomical pay, take a look at who pays for the stadiums. In general, it’s a sales tax levy laid on the poor guys who never dream of occupying box seats on the first base line.

  • Joe

    Bike – that is true but those same poor guys keep electing the schmos who impose the stadium taxes on them. Can’t divorce that reality from the analysis. It is very rare to see a tax uprising related to a stadium – it kind of happened in Milwaukee after the Miller Park tax was implemented but it was short lived.

    Green Bay was smart about it, they held a referendum and the voters voted to tax themselves to *help* pay for the Lambeau Field renovation (the vote was either 51-49 or 52-48).

    Then there is the argument that communities make money of the stadiums – I have seen studies that both prove and disprove that argument. Honestly, I think it comes down to how the individual stadium is owned and the allocation of revenue on a case by case basis.

  • Joe

    Bike – that is true but those same poor guys keep electing the schmos who impose the stadium taxes on them. Can’t divorce that reality from the analysis. It is very rare to see a tax uprising related to a stadium – it kind of happened in Milwaukee after the Miller Park tax was implemented but it was short lived.

    Green Bay was smart about it, they held a referendum and the voters voted to tax themselves to *help* pay for the Lambeau Field renovation (the vote was either 51-49 or 52-48).

    Then there is the argument that communities make money of the stadiums – I have seen studies that both prove and disprove that argument. Honestly, I think it comes down to how the individual stadium is owned and the allocation of revenue on a case by case basis.

  • Arfies

    This is a matter of some interest to me because in addition to anything else, I have three granddaughters who will be in the fifth grade, the third grade, and the first grade this fall. They are all bright, active, inquisitive, and love going to school to learn. I want to see that continue, but it could change if any or all of them get a teacher who doesn’t challenge and stimulate them, and encourage them to have fun learning. If that happens to one of them, I don’t know if we would be able to change her class to one with a good teacher, but I know we would try.

  • Arfies

    This is a matter of some interest to me because in addition to anything else, I have three granddaughters who will be in the fifth grade, the third grade, and the first grade this fall. They are all bright, active, inquisitive, and love going to school to learn. I want to see that continue, but it could change if any or all of them get a teacher who doesn’t challenge and stimulate them, and encourage them to have fun learning. If that happens to one of them, I don’t know if we would be able to change her class to one with a good teacher, but I know we would try.

  • Pinon Coffee

    @sg –

    Uh, what are you talking about, that any able person would be crazy to go into education? I know several good teachers, yes even in US public schools, and your statement would seem uncharitable at best. Just sayin’.

    But if that was supposed to be an attack on the unhelpful education bureaucracy… you might have a point. ;-)

  • Pinon Coffee

    @sg –

    Uh, what are you talking about, that any able person would be crazy to go into education? I know several good teachers, yes even in US public schools, and your statement would seem uncharitable at best. Just sayin’.

    But if that was supposed to be an attack on the unhelpful education bureaucracy… you might have a point. ;-)


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