Define “Good Teacher”

11 Dec

One of my classmates found this article in the Washington Post.  Here’s the summary:

“While debate rages in the education world about how to measure effective teaching – or whether it is even possible to do so – research funded by a prominent advocate of data-driven analysis [the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] has found that growth in annual student test scores is a reliable sign of a good teacher… The foundation in the past year has collaborated with local teachers’ unions on reshaping teacher pay and evaluation in several major school systems.”

Guess who was paid $45 million to do the research?  Educational Testing Services.  Because nothing says “impartial research results” like hiring the country’s largest test-producer to point out the importance of testing to evaluate both children and teachers!

Basically, here’s how I imagine the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would define a good teacher:

Good teacher: (n.) 1. One who bribes, threatens, punishes, and in many other ways manipulates children to reach arbitrary markers set by moronic politicians. 2. One who robs children of the joy of learning in order to procure a bonus and pension.

Here’s my definition of what they consider a “good teacher”:

Good teacher: (n.) 1. One who is bribed, threatened, punished, and in many other ways manipulated to reach arbitrary markers set by moronic politicians.  2. One who is robbed of the joy of teaching in order to finance a broken and corrupt system.

I’m seeing a pattern…

Author’s note: Shortly after posting this, Alexa pointed out that the New York Times had also written about this study, although they give a somewhat different take on the methodology and results.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Teachers whose students described them as skillful at maintaining classroom order, at focusing their instruction and at helping their charges learn from their mistakes are often the same teachers whose students learn the most in the course of a year, as measured by gains on standardized test scores, according to a progress report on the research.”

I still have major issues with equating “students who learn the most” with “gains on standardized test scores” and pegging the blame or glory on the teacher…


2 Responses to “Define “Good Teacher””

  1. Superplexa December 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    That’s interesting. I saw this about five minutes after I caught the same story on the NY Times ( What’s interesting is that the Washington Post spun the story as “test scores are reliable measures of teacher effectiveness *because* they correlate with student evaluations” (which I suspect was the real intent of the Gates Foundation), the Times spins the story as “student evaluations are a reliable measure of teacher effectiveness *because* they agree with standardized test scores. Of course, neither paper will get anything right when reporting studies until they figure out that correlation is not causation, but…

  2. Debbie December 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    I am not totaling up-to-date on the methods back by the Gates, but I have seen some amazing results and the methods I have seen are very hands on, helpful teachers, and raising the student’s self-esteem to have them realize what they are capable of achieving and helping them to reach their full potential.

    We will not be making any gains if we continue to down other’s attempts–if only we could work together and take the best of each other! I have never read anything of Montessori critizing others, only raising awareness of the methods resulting from her observations and studies.

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