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Scaling Successes Mark: You folks at Kresge have been driving this larger conversation with some of your technology investments. Making sure you have data around the technology has been a big part of your conversations. I think, for us, the issue with data is that so much of higher education has been really managed by anecdote. Mark: Yes. We have been testing it enough that we have some hunches about what helps with scaling.
The biggest is that many colleges and universities have sort of a planning year, a pilot year, and then maybe they roll it out to half of the campus. It kind of trickles its way out. The faster you can make that planning and pilot year a single year, then actually rolling out completely once you get done with that year, the better chance you can accelerate it from a four-year cycle down to a two-year cycle.
You have to take a startup mentality that the pilot and planning year is iterative. There are always ways you can cut and slice it to make it the right size for your campus. Wynn: It absolutely is. This whole notion of scale; I think about it a lot. The reality is we have things, and actually a lot of things that work at scale.
We have scaled public education. We want to be really careful what we scale. Of course, all of us have the best interest of students at heart. Texas has the largest network of Early College High Schools in the country, at about We have more than 39, students enrolled in Early College in the state. There were a number of other investors who came alongside, and we were one of them here in Texas, along with the largest funder which was the Texas Education Agency.
Of those 39, students, 79 percent of them, I think, are Latinos. I think 80 percent are low income. The intervention is aimed at students who, otherwise, would not have graduated from high school, much less enrolled and completed higher education.
It started small. Over a decade later we now have a of these campuses. The impact data, the success data is incredible. The high school graduation rates are above the state average. Their direct enrollment into higher education is 15 percentage points above the state average. They persist and graduated about 20 percentage points higher in baccalaureates. William: We were talking before this session began that this is probably akin to the transition to computers on college campuses 30 plus years ago where people were initially buying computers because it seemed to make sense, but they figured they would just buy one.
Of course, they became permanently implanted throughout the organization. I think the same thing will happen with data analytics. One, is that leadership has to believe this is possible, and take it as a priority. This is actually about operational and diagnostic data, not autopsy data. That means thinking differently. We were not very structured about exactly what the reform needed to be, but it involved redesigning, advising, and using predictive analytics. We need to know that this is an integrated approach across your entire campus.
One from leadership. One from IT, and one from IR. We looked at them. This is one of the top priorities, maybe even the top priority. Here are their goals. It fits in. Does it reference what leadership is talking about, or does it seem like a silo? It was very interesting. With many of the applications, you could see that a committee had been formed. People got together.
They kind of parsed out exactly what they were going to say and what the main talking points were. How could that be possible? It was all over the map. The ones that were most integrated are the ones that we actually chose as the winners. We think we want to change our advising ratio from one to to one to , and institute a professional advising core for the first year, and then transition to faculty when students make their major selection. We have a high degree of likelihood of success.
Integrated Data Strategies Mark: Do you see a shift in the grant-making world where people are now saying they want integrated data strategies? Do you see that coming into the grant-making world? It seems like data is getting woven in to a lot more of the grant submissions where people want a formative evaluation strategy along the way. This time around, we were closer. It was six months afterwards, and we actually made sure the evaluation members of our team were part of the process, were actually some of the folks that chose some of the winners, or at least graded them.
We actually want—every six months—for you to come back to us and give us your qualitative findings. That will probably be on an annual basis, but qualitatively what are you seeing on the campuses? William: I think this points to the issue of why evaluation is so valuable with data analytics.
This is not just about the data. Yet, they think they are. William: Right. Evidence-Based Intervention Mark: You end up adopting because everyone else is adopting it. Impact philanthropy is the coin of the realm, right? Jason: Yes. This evidence-based intervention model is now, I would say, fully embedded in our education side of the house.
We actually take those evaluations very seriously. We think hard about the questions we want to ask. The sharpest critiques have come from education historian-cum-advocate Diane Ravitch, who had Mr. Clements of Hillsborough County.
Gates officials suggested, for instance, that the teacher-evaluation system incorporate student surveys. But Hillsborough demurred and has not faced penalties, Ms. Clements said. No one wants to scuttle a chance at a grant, said Mr. Hess of the AEI. Even so, the scope of Gates giving does not guarantee that the changes it has promoted will be long lasting or successful.
Greene, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville who has studied education philanthropy and is generally critical of the Gates Foundation. Who are the constituencies who want those from the bottom up? Greene said. Millions of teachers are not so easily fooled. Teachers continue to view the Gates efforts with suspicion, said Ms.
Vicki L. Six years after his initial meeting with Mr. Gates, Mr. Editorial Intern Alyssa Morones contributed reporting. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage under the Gates grants. Under the arrangement, the EPE Research Center conducted a pilot project on the feasibility of providing research support to the foundation. All Topics. About Us. Group Subscriptions. Recruitment Advertising.
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Schools also implemented new career pathways for effective teachers and awarded teachers with bonuses for good performance. By the end of the school year, the study found, student outcomes were not significantly better than outcomes in similar school sites that did not participate in the initiative. Researchers also found no evidence that low-income and minority students had greater access to effective teachers than their white, more-affluent peers, which had been another stated goal by the Gates Foundation.
Researchers also collected student outcome data for the and school years, and will update the conclusions this fall or next spring. A caveat to these results is that while the initiative was taking place, high-stakes teacher-evaluation measures were also being enacted across the country. This made it difficult to tease out the results of the Gates-led teacher-evaluation systems, compared to what was being implemented elsewhere.
The research looked at the extent to which the Gates partnerships improved student outcomes over and above the statewide reforms. Still, at the end of the research period, very few teachers in participating districts were classified as ineffective, which researchers believe is in part due to an unwillingness among school leaders to give harsh ratings based on classroom observations.
Also, sites did not ultimately retain more effective teachers, although researchers did find declines in the retention of ineffective teachers. Last October, the Gates Foundation had announced a major shift in its investment strategy for education , pivoting away from teacher-evaluation efforts entirely. Preliminary results of the intensive teaching partnership had indicated that the work was not translating into widespread achievement gains for students.
Education Week receives financial support from the Gates Foundation for coverage of continuous improvement strategies in education, and has received grant funding in the past for coverage of college- and career-ready standards implementation. Education Week retains sole editorial control of its content. That prior study—the results of which were incorporated into this more-recent partnership work—demonstrated that great teaching can be identified through classroom observations, student surveys, and student test scores.
Still, years of research show that teacher effectiveness is important for student growth, said Daniel Goldhaber, the director of the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington, who has studied issues of teacher performance for more than a decade and whose center receives Gates funding. Goldhaber is also employed by AIR, but was not involved in this research.
And that ill will might have influenced evaluation scores, the study suggests. Over time, fewer and fewer teachers were identified as low-performing in most of the sites. The study found some evidence that this shift may have been due to increasingly generous ratings on subjective parts of the evaluation like classroom observations, rather than an actual improvement in teaching.
Principals point to the need for positive relationships with their staff members, concerns about teacher turnover, and a lack of time as potential reasons for the score inflation. The RAND study echoes some of those findings: School leaders told researchers they would rather help teachers improve instead of dismissing them.
The study suggests that because the initiative had sites use evaluation results as the basis for tenure and dismissal decisions, principals might have avoided giving low observation ratings. However, Dwyer said Hillsborough schools, at least, had safeguards in place to prevent that scenario from happening. The rigorous nature of the observation rubric recommended by Gates also added a considerable time burden on administrators.
Stecher said that if the evaluation scores were to be used in personnel decisions, the observations had to be rigorous and reliable—for example, a principal might need to observe a teacher for a whole hour, four times a year. But shorter classroom drop-ins might provide helpful, more immediate feedback for a teacher, which school leaders were more interested in.
Over time, some of the sites reduced the length and frequency of the observations to free up more time for administrators and to better support teacher improvement, which was not the original intent of the initiative.
That made it harder for sites to develop new, innovative practices. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Hess also authors an opinion blog at edweek. For instance, most teachers surveyed in all the districts said they have become more reflective about their teaching and have made changes to their instruction as a result of the evaluation system. A spokeswoman for Hillsborough schools said in an email that it will take more time to gauge how the Gates-led practices affected student achievement, and that changes to state testing may have skewed the results.
School sites will keep some of the practices they used during the initiative, even without ongoing Gates support. For instance, all sites will continue to use multiple measures for teacher evaluations, and most will continue to incorporate observation scores and student achievement growth into one composite measure that will identify low-performing teachers. The Gates partnerships, while not entirely successful, will inform future research and initiatives, researchers and analysts said.
Not only about teacher evaluation, but about this approach to trying to change how school systems work. All Topics. About Us. Group Subscriptions. Recruitment Advertising. Events and Webinars. At the same time, teachers in the three districts were highly skeptical that the evaluation system was fair — or that it made sense to attach high-stakes consequences to the results. Part of the impetus for evaluation reform was the idea, backed by some research, that black and Hispanic students from low-income families were more likely to have lower-quality teachers.
In Hillsborough County, inequity expanded. Surprisingly, before the changes began, the study found that low-income kids of color actually had similar or slightly more effective teachers than other students in Pittsburgh, Hillsborough County, and Shelby County. Districts put in place modest bonuses to get top teachers to switch schools, but the evaluation system itself may have been a deterrent.
That amounts to between 1. Over a third of that money came from the Gates Foundation. Before the new evaluation systems were put in place, the vast majority of teachers got high ratings. In Pittsburgh, in the initial two years, when evaluations had low stakes, a substantial number of teachers got low marks. That drew objections from the union. The basic theory of action of evaluation changes is to get more effective teachers into the classroom and then stay there, while getting less effective ones out or helping them improve.
But there was some evidence that the changes made lower-rated teachers more likely to leave. Less than 1 percent of teachers were formally dismissed from the places where data was available. One key test of success for any foundation initiative is whether it is politically and financially sustainable after the external funds run out.
Here, the results are mixed. Both Pittsburgh and Hillsborough have ended high-profile aspects of their program: the merit pay system and bringing in peer evaluators, respectively. But other aspects of the initiative have been maintained, according to the study, including the use of classroom observation rubrics, evaluations that use multiple metrics, and certain career-ladder opportunities.
Teachers unions have long promoted peer-based evaluation, but district officials said that a few evaluators who were rude or hostile soured many teachers on the concept. Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.
The Gates Foundation bet big on teacher evaluation. The report it commissioned explains how those efforts fell short. Sixth-grade teacher James Johnson leads his students in a gameshow-style lesson on energy at Chickasaw Middle School in in Shelby County. The district was one of three that received a grant from the Gates Foundation to overhaul teacher evaluation. The initiative did not lead to clear gains in student learning.
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