Since acronyms seem to be a part of any profession, we have the delight of two MET’s in math education. One is the Mathematical Education of Teachers, which just came out with their second version that I am working my way through. The other is the Measures of Effective Teaching project that the Gates Foundation has been putting on the past three years. Today is about the latter.

You can go and read the whole thing here. If you skip to page 20 you can read their “What We Know” conclusions from the 3 year study. I like a lot of what the report has to say about how to use classroom observation, rigorously training observers, taking a balanced approach, etc. I have a hard time with a standardized test being the end-all measurement and I don’t trust student surveys for an accurate portrayal of a teacher’s abilities.

Interestingly, right after finishing the Gates report I was given a link to this abstract from a paper issued in December of 2012 by C. Kirabo Jackson:

I present a model where students have cognitive and non-cognitive ability and a teacher’s effect on long-run outcomes is a combination of her effect on both ability types. Conditional on cognitive scores, an underlying noncognitive factor associated with student absences, suspensions, grades, and grade progression, is strongly correlated with long-run educational attainment, arrests, and earnings in survey data. In administrative data teachers have meaningful causal effects on both test-scores and this non-cognitive factor. Calculations indicate that teacher effects based on test scores alone fail to identify many excellent teachers, and may greatly understate the importance of teachers on adult outcomes.

I am interested in the idea of a teacher’s outcome on “non-cognitive ability”. How do you measure a teacher’s ability to help kids throw off the fear they all seem to exist in during adolescence as they work to figure out who they are and who they want to be? I don’t think a standardized test measures that well and there is something powerful about realizing you have the respect of an adult who is not your relative and who shows passion for life.

[UPDATE 01/17/2013]

Two new articles have come out that chime in about the statistics (or lack thereof) in the Gates Foundation article. Good reads. And if you teach stats they are rather applicable.

The 50 Million Dollar Lie, by Gary Rubinstein

Gates Foundation Wastes More Money Pushing VAM, by Gene V. Glass

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Hi,

I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we’re putting together. “The Number Hunter” is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter — bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

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Thanks in advance for your help,

Stephanie

andalepublishing@gmail.com

http://www.thenumberhunter.com

http://www.statisticshowto.com

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