Welcome back to News & Views. For those of you who presented TNE-related papers at AERA recently, we'd love to have a copy of it in the library. Feel free to send me a link or a pdf (we can store the file on our server). Stay tuned, as our next issue of should include copies of selected chapters from the most recent Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, as well as a plethora of papers on value-added modeling from an upcoming conference hosted by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (and co-sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York). As always, please let me know if you have any comments, questions, recommended resources, or think someone else in the TNE world should be receiving this email. Thanks, and read on. Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measures in Education Brian A. Jacob, Lars Lefgren KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series June 2005 " In this paper, we compare subjective principal assessments of teachers to the traditional determinants of teacher compensation - education and experience - and another potential compensation mechanism - value- added measures of teacher effectiveness based on student achievement gains. We find that subjective principal assessments of teachers predict future student achievement significantly better than teacher experience, education or actual compensation, though not as well as value-added teacher quality measures. In particular, principals appear quite good at identifying those teachers who produce the largest and smallest standardized achievement gains in their schools, but have far less ability to distinguish between teachers in the middle of this distribution and systematically discriminate against male and untenured faculty. Moreover, we find that a principal's overall rating of a teacher is a substantially better predictor of future parent requests for that teacher than either the teacher's experience, education and current compensation or the teacher's value-added achievement measure. These findings not only inform education policy, but also shed light on subjective performance assessment more generally." Effects of Teacher Induction on Beginning Teachers' Teaching Jian Wang, Sandra J. Odell, Sharon A. Schwille Journal of Teacher Education March/April 2008 Full text for subscribers only "Drawing on literature since 1997, this review explores the effects of teacher induction on beginning teachers' conceptions and practice of teaching, and it identifies three approaches to understanding such effects, as found in the literature. The first approach addresses the assumed effects of teacher induction components on beginning teachers' teaching using theoretical assumptions as a base. The second approach analyzes the effects through teachers' self-reports. The third explores the effects of using multiple data sources. Although teacher induction affects beginning teachers' ideas about teaching, few studies capture its effects on teaching practice and student achievement. Thus, this review suggests directions for future research." Methodological Concerns About the Education Value-Added Assessment System Audrey Amrein-Beardsley Educational Researcher March 2008 Full text for subscribers only "Value-added models help to evaluate the knowledge that school districts, schools, and teachers add to student learning as students progress through school. In this article, the well-known Education Value- Added Assessment System (EVAAS) is examined. The author presents a practical investigation of the methodological issues associated with the model. Specifically, she argues that, although EVAAS is probably the most sophisticated value-added model, it has flaws that must be addressed before widespread adoption. She explores in depth the shortage of external reviews and validity studies of the model, its insufficient user-friendliness, and methodological issues about missing data, regression to the mean, and student background variables. She also examines a paradigm case in which the model was used to advance unfounded assertions." The Plugged In School: Districts harness technology to attract and retain new teachers Joan Richardson The Learning System April 2008 "Imagine that you are a 22-year-old about to enter the teaching profession. For four years, you’ve had broadband access 24/7 from your home and the coffee shop you frequent. You text your friends, “poke” people on Facebook, and post videos on YouTube. You register for classes online, take online courses and submit all of your papers via e-mail. You do your banking online, your shopping online, your research online....While school districts may be slow to jump on board, universities, regional education service agencies, and non-profit organizations are harnessing some of the new technologies as a way to both appeal to incoming teachers and to support them during their challenging first years in the profession." Includes a "nonscientific survey to stimulate a conversation among district staff or within school buildings about their level of comfort with new technologies." Does Mentoring Reduce Turnover and Improve Skills of New Employees? Evidence from Teachers in New York City Jonah E. Rockoff National Bureau of Economic Research March 2008 "Mentoring has become an extremely popular policy for improving the retention and performance of new teachers, but we know little about its effects on teacher and student outcomes. I study the impact of mentoring in New York City, which adopted a nationally recognized mentoring program in 2004. I use detailed program data to examine the relationship between teacher and student outcomes and measures of mentoring quality, such as hours of mentoring received and the characteristics of mentors. Although assignment of teachers to mentors was non-random, I use instrumental variables and school fixed effects to address potential sources of bias. I find strong relationships between measures of mentoring quality and teachers' claims regarding the impact of mentors on their success in the classroom, but weaker evidence of effects on teacher absences, retention, and student achievement. The most consistent finding is that retention within a particular school is higher when a mentor has previous experience working in that school, suggesting that an important part of mentoring may be the provision of school specific knowledge. I also find evidence that student achievement in both reading and math were higher among teachers that received more hours of mentoring, supporting the notion that time spent working with a mentor does improve teaching skills." Measuring and Improving the Effectiveness of High School Teachers Alliance for Excellent Education March 2008 "Most education reformers agree that effective teaching is defined by improving student learning, but they disagree on how to measure teacher effectiveness and how to use those measurements to improve teaching. Thus far, most of the policy debate on teacher effectiveness has focused on using test scores to implement merit pay or to fire teachers, but those strategies alone will not lift teacher performance on a large scale. The best way to improve teacher effectiveness is to provide teachers with support and guidance that are grounded in effectiveness—that is, which uses effectiveness data to enhance professional development and teacher education, strengthen evaluations and career development, and revamp accountability policies to reward and encourage student learning. Only then can staffing, pay, or any other high school reform effort advance the primary goal of improving student achievement for college and work readiness." Promoting Work on Education in Mathematics Departments William G. McCallum NOTICES of the American Mathematical Society April 30, 2003 This article makes the case for developing a culture of professional review for mathematician’s work on education and highlights several examples of mathematician’s work in this area that is research-oriented. A few of the projects mentioned as examples of “research-like” work which often goes unnoticed include: (1) The Case Studies Project at Boston College, which developed a series of published fictional stories for training graduate teaching assistants and were intended as sources for discussions about mathematical and pedagogical questions; (2) WeBWorK, designed by mathematicians at the University of Rochester, an online homework system which provides students with instant feedback on practice problems and grades on homework assignments; (3) Business Mathematics, a two-semester course at the University of Arizona, which requires students to work in groups to make several major business decisions using mathematical and technological tools; and (4) The Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) at Boston University, which introduces high school students to mathematics research and entails a 6 week summer component and follow-up workshops throughout the year. McCallum discusses the differences in what is valued in the two fields of mathematics research and education, stating that “in mathematics research we place a high value on originality; elegant new proofs of old theorems are not valued as highly as inelegant proofs of new theorems. In work on education we might value things differently, placing a high value on refinement of existing work rather than originality for its own sake….” He then points out the importance of supporting faculty who undertake significant responsibilities in mathematics teacher education and how work in math education should be noted appropriately in the criteria (traditionally research, teaching, and service) for merit, tenure, and promotion within a university. To do this, he argues that the university must exercise caution to avoid automatically assigning creative scholarly work in education to the categories of “teaching” or “service”, which are generally not considered as important as “research”, just because the scholarly work does not look like traditional research. Estimating Causal Effects Using Experimental and Observational Designs Barbara Schneider, Martin Carnoy, Jeremy Kilpatrick, William H. Schmidt, Richard J. Shavelson American Educational Research Association December 2007 "[T]he present report describes and exemplifies the role of causal inference in providing evidence on the effectiveness of educational programs and practices. Section 2 begins by defining cause and effect and then reviews the logic of causal inference, presents a formal specification of the causal inference model used in randomized controlled experiments, and provides criteria for making such inferences. Section 3 describes alternative designs that have been developed to approximate randomized experiments. Section 4 summarizes four NSF-supported studies that vary in design and methods of analysis. The strengths and limitations of these designs for making causal inferences are reviewed. The report concludes with recommendations intended to assist NSF and other funding agencies in the review and development of their education research portfolios." Rush to Judgment: Teacher Evaluation in Public Education Thomas Toch, Robert Rothman Education Sector February 2008 "In this Education Sector report, Co-founder and Co-director Thomas Toch and Robert Rothman of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform examine the causes and consequences of the crisis in teacher evaluation, as well as its implications for the current national debate about performance pay for teachers. And the report examines a number of national, state, and local evaluation systems that point to a way out of the evaluation morass." What Keeps Good Teachers in the Classroom? Understanding and Reducing Teacher Turnover Alliance for Excellent Education February 2008 "Teachers are crucial to the success of our students. Yet many of them are leaving their schools and the profession every year, particularly in poorer, lower-performing schools. Several studies have attempted to identify why teachers leave and how to stem their turnover, but few have identified the quality of teachers who are departing. As in any profession, not all attrition is bad, but whether bad or good, it has financial ramifications. This brief explores the costs associated with teachers leaving the profession and their schools, the characteristics of those likely to leave, and what can be done to prevent unnecessary and costly turnover." Measuring student growth: A guide for informed decision making Jim Hull Center for Public Education November 2007 "Simply put, a growth model measures the amount of students' academic progress between two points in time. The terms 'value added' and 'growth models' are often the cited statistical methods for measuring student growth for accountability purposes. But what exactly are these methods? Do they measure what they claim to measure? How should they be used? More important, as a school policymaker, educator, parent, or voter, why should you care? This guide is intended to answer these and other questions and to help you decide which model, if any, should be used in your state or district. Although we explain growth models within the framework of NCLB, they can be used for a variety of educational purposes—not just for high-stakes accountability as we also illustrate throughout this guide."