Study tracking 2.5 million students over 20 years links good teachers to lasting gain

I found this January 2012 New York Times article, about research that links good teachers to lasting gains, of interest.

The article reports that a large-scale study – tracking 2.5 million students over 20 years – found that public school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores appear to have a lasting positive effect on their students’ lives beyond academics. Differences in teachers means differences in how much students earn over the course of their lives.

This research has implications with regard to “value-added ratings,” which measure the impact individual teachers have on student test scores. Many school districts in the United States have begun to use value-added metrics to influence decisions on hiring, pay, and firing.

I’m reminded of a December 10, 2011 article in The Toronto Star indicating that the Ontario government has decided that the identity and actions of many rogue teachers will no longer be kept secret from the public.

Elsewhere I’ve written about speech therapy for stuttering as a process akin to learning fluency as a second language. A challenge that I faced in my teens and early twenties, namely the fact that I stuttered severely in those years, has influenced my own outlook toward learning. With regard to speech therapy for stuttering, it’s been my experience that two things warrant consideration, for those stutterers who seek treatment for their disability (assuming they see stuttering as a disability that warrants treatment).

First, a client of treatment services will benefit from assessing the available evidence regarding the long-term benefits of particular ways of dealing with stuttering. In my experience an evidence-based approach is essential when considering the options available for people who stutter. Show me evidence that a given approach works on a long-term basis, in everyday situations, for a majority of stutterers. Show me results published in peer-reviewed professional journals. Otherwise, I am not interested.

Secondly, speech therapists are similar to teachers, when we’re looking at speech professionals who have the capacity to teach fluency as a second language to a client who stutters. Some are well trained to provide such instruction. Some are not. The key step in such a scenario is to find a speech clinic where the clinicians are all at the top of their game, and get instruction from that clinic.

Similarly it’s helpful when people who teach meditation and yoga know what they’re doing. Otherwise, one can run into problems.

Meanwhile, this New Yorker article offers another perspective on testing.


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