Recently, I was part of the Global Economic Symposium held in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s theme was Growth through Education and Innovation; I presented as part of a panel entitled Effective Investments in Education.
My presentation focussed on the fact that a growing and compelling body of research shows that teacher effectiveness varies widely - even across classrooms in the same grade in the same school. Getting assigned to a bad teacher has not only immediate, but also long term, consequences for student learning, college completion and long-term income.
One of my favourite Oxfam projects is Chukua Hatua (CH) in Tanzania, which is using an evolutionary/venture capitalist theory of change to promote accountability in a couple of regions of the country. CH is now looking for a new coordinator, because the wonderful Jane Lonsdale is moving on – if you fancy taking over, check out the job ad (closing date 20 July).
Talk of ‘Evolutionary theories of change’ all sounds very abstract, so here are six specific examples of the kinds of change the project is bringing about.
In recent weeks, several articles have appeared in the main U.S. newspapers– including the Washington Post and the New York Times – discussing the potential benefits and pitfalls of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to publish performance data on individual teachers. Together with an economist, LA Times’ reporters used long-existing data on student test scores by teacher over time, to estimate individual teachers’ “value-added”, that is, the change in a student’s test score in the year that they had a specific teacher, attributing this change to the teacher’s effectiveness. They found enormous variation in the change in scores of students of particular teachers, and published the names of some teachers – both the “best” and “worst”. Further, the paper announced that it will soon release the approximate rankings of all individual teachers in LA.
Will public accountability of individual teacher performance contribute to improve education quality in Los Angeles? Is this something that other education systems around the world struggling with finding options to raise teaching quality and student learning outcomes consider?