What We Lose When Teachers Retire

In many of his speeches, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cites the projection that one million teachers will retire over the next decade. He uses this projection to support his policy objectives to transform the profession by reforming teacher evaluation systems, identifying effective and ineffective teachers, rewarding and removing teachers based on their effectiveness, and recruiting a new brand of teacher.

These are all common strategies leaders use to improve the labor force, but I wonder if these are the right strategies to emphasize when one third of the individuals in the profession are about to exit. I worry about the loss of what Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap call "deep smarts" within schools. In their book Deep Smarts, Leonard and Swap describe how experienced professionals carry a highly sophisticated mixture of explicit and tacit knowledge. This knowledge is developed over time when experiencing variants of common problems. Leonard and Swap describe how this specialized knowledge is often lost when experienced professionals leave an organization. They urge organizations to protect this essential knowledge that resides in the heads of their professionals.

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A Model for Teacher Effects From Longitudinal Data

This paper from the Journal Of Educational And Behavioral Statistics takes a look at longitudinal individual teacher effects

One of the most challenging aspects of modeling longitudinal achievement data is how to address the persistence of the effects of past educational inputs on future achievement outcomes. In this article, we are concerned primarily with the effects of individual teachers and how best to model the accumulation of those effects across a longitudinal series of student achievement measures. For example, if a teacher improves student reading comprehension by teaching comprehension strategies, then we might expect the strategies to be useful for improving achievement in both current and future years. However, it is less clear how much the effects will persist and how the effects on future achievement will relate to the effects for the current year. The utility of comprehension strategies might diminish over time as students develop other methods for reading comprehension and the teacher’s effect on future scores might decrease and eventually fade to zero.

Results from these kinds of studies continue to raise concerns

As the prospect of using longitudinal achievement data to make potentially high-stakes inferences about individual teachers becomes more of a reality, itis important that statistical methods be flexible enough to account for the complexities of the data. The increasing frequency of tests that are not developmentally scaled across grades, as well as the concerns about the properties of developmental scales, suggests that longitudinal data series may need to be treated as repeated correlated measures of different constructs rather than repeated measures of a consistently defined unidimensional construct. Coupled with the inherent complexity of the accumulation of past educational inputs,models that assume equality or otherwise perfect correlation between proximal and future year effects of individual teachers may be inappropriate and run the risk of leading to misleading inferences about teachers. The GP model developed in this article tackles these issues head-on by generalizing existing value-added models to handle both scaling inconsistencies across repeated test scores and potential decay in the effects of past educational inputs on future test scores.

The results of our empirical investigations suggest that the assumption of perfect correlation between proximal and future effects of individual teachers is not entirely consistent with the data.

Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics-2010-Mariano-253-79

Let's Say You're a Teacher

So--let's say you're a teacher.

Not "just a teacher," but one of those special teachers we hear about in news and policy discussions-- the supposedly rare educator who has passionate disciplinary expertise, a toolbag full of teaching strategies and genuine caring for their students. You're in education because you want to make a difference, change the world, raise the bar. You actually love teaching, finding it endlessly variable and challenging. You plan to spend a long time in the classroom.

So you begin pursuing a graduate degree in education. You notice that getting a masters degree in education is scorned in policy world as having little impact on student learning. A few of your classes are tedious. But some of them are genuinely interesting and valuable, pushing you to think more deeply about the work you do and increasing your content knowledge. Even though pundits declare your advanced degree does not correlate with increased student achievement, you press on. You're enjoying the intellectual stimulation and--let's face it-- accruing credits is another way to increase your salary and you need the money.

You're fascinated by new instructional strategies and curriculum ideas. You're eager to learn. But your district--which just replaced all its computers in the past two years--has no money for professional development. So you burn two of your business days, pay your own registration fee and mileage, and travel with three colleagues to a conference across the state, where--being a teacher type--you attend every single session and collect tons of free stuff to take back to your classroom in a canvas bag (which you will later give to a student as a reward for reading 25 books). The four of you share the $200 hotel room, and split a pizza. The high life.

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GOP Pollster puts SB5 repeal way ahead

Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies has the repeal of SB5 way ahead

Overall, 51% said they favor repeal, compared to 38% who said they would vote to keep the new law in place. Another 11% said they were unsure on the question.

According to the poll independents favor repeal by a 10 point margin.