Wenglinsky 2000 how teaching matters most

Without a doubt, the socioeconomic variables would have a much larger combined effect on student achievement than the teacher variables. Both science and math teachers were also asked about 21 different teaching practices. Doctors choose their treatments based on the condition of their patients.

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The cross-sectional nature of the NAEP data set creates another problem: Flunking ETS. The vast majority of investments in professional development bore no demonstrated relationship to student achievement. This makes estimating the effects of teachers on students with nonexperimental survey data a daunting task.

Of the six areas of professional development, only two had significant, positive effects for math teachers, and only one of eight had a significant, positive effect for science teachers. Consider how seriously misleading such an approach would be in a medical study.

Teachers most commonly received training on cooperative learning 71 percent of teachers , interdisciplinary instruction 50 percent , higher-order thinking skills 47 percent , and portfolio assessment 39 percent.

On the face of it, these seem to be fairly negative results. The statistics on display in Figure 1, however, simply reinforce what many other studies of student achievement have found-namely, that the socioeconomic background of the student has a very large effect on student achievement, an effect that dominates any other measured school or teacher input. In the 1999 NAEP data, for example, the test-score gap between white and black students was 0.

If so, then the positive effects of this pedagogical method may reflect nothing more than the racial composition of the classrooms. Researchers have begun to construct longitudinal data files on student achievement by linking student records in some districts and states. For example, if good practices on one variable are associated with bad practices on another, the two practices might cancel one another out.

Flunking ETS

This new ETS study illustrates why isolating the effects of teachers is so difficult. For example, are those students who are located in math classes with teachers who emphasize higher-order thinking skills disproportionately white? For example, suppose it had information on family income, size, and composition e.

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In fact, this type of exercise tends to exaggerate the effect of teachers relative to the effects of socioeconomic status.

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