Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Australian research shows the importance of good teachers and ....

Some VERY interesting findings below

SCHOOL students who have good teachers take half as long to learn their course material as those with poor teachers, new research shows. The report provides the first objective evidence of which teachers are adding value to the academic performance of their students - and which teachers are letting children down. "The top 10 per cent of teachers achieve in half a year what the bottom 10 per cent achieve in a full year," says the author, economist Andrew Leigh, of the Australian National University.

Dr Leigh tracked three years of numeracy and literacy exam scores for 90,000 primary school students and matched them against 10,000 teachers. Good teaching - measured by improvements in exam scores - has almost no relationship with teacher experience, qualifications or any of the criteria currently used by most schools to hire or reward teachers. Instead, the best teachers appear to be good at their jobs because of innate factors like personal drive, curiosity and ability to relate to students. "Most of the differences between teachers are due to factors not captured on the payroll database," said Dr Leigh. The study shows female teachers are more likely to improve student literacy, while males are better at teaching maths.

Surprisingly, it shows students in large classes performed better than those in small ones - although it doesn't claim a causative link. It also finds no positive effects of teacher qualifications on test scores, a finding which challenges the Federal Opposition's policy of paying teachers more for better academic qualifications rather than for observed ability.

The study is likely to receive a frosty reception from teacher unions and state education bureaucracies which say exam scores cannot be used to measure teacher quality. But it has been seized upon by private schools and the Federal Government. The executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Geoff Newcombe, said Dr Leigh's "groundbreaking" findings paved the way for teachers to be partly rewarded by the exam score improvements of their students. "It's complex but we can't stick our head in the sand and say it's too hard," he said.

The Federal Education Minister, Julie Bishop, said the report supports her policy of introducing performance pay for teachers next year. "This makes a mockery of education union and Labor Party claims that teacher performance cannot be measured," she said.

The schools data for Dr Leigh's study, which includes year 3 and 5 numeracy and literacy exam scores and information about individual teachers, was provided by the Queensland Education Department after NSW and Victoria had refused to make their information available. As well as being used to identify, reward and retain the best teachers, Dr Leigh says his methodology could be used to send the best teachers where they could contribute most. If indigenous students had teachers from the top quarter rather than the bottom, then the findings imply the two-year black-white test score gap could be closed within seven years. [A very simple-minded extrapolation]


Australia: Teachers reject payment by results

Predictably. Businesses get payment by results but teachers are high-minded noble idealists, of course

NSW school principals are designing their own plan to reward quality teaching in defiance of the Federal Government's push to link performance pay to student results. The body representing 460 high school heads has rejected the Government's "ideologically driven" model. They are wary of Labor's alternative, saying it is still too thin on detail.

The president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, Jim McAlpine, said the council's plan would be "based on merit rather than performance". "[The federal Minister for Education] Julie Bishop's performance pay is going to be based on results of students in tests and that is a very narrow performance measure," he said. "But teachers who take on additional responsibilities, who undertake additional professional learning, who contribute to the further development of other teachers, merit extra pay."

From January 2008, first-year teachers in NSW Government schools will earn an annual salary of $50,250 and receive an increase each year for the following nine years up to $75,000. They will then receive no further increase unless they take up a position as a head teacher, deputy principal or principal. Top principals earn $119,000. In all there are 21 pay points in teaching, based on merit, years of experience and school size. The principals suggest creating extra salary steps for teachers who, for example, complete master's degrees and use them to help their colleagues. This would recognise the collegiality of the profession, where a number of teachers may contribute to a pupil's development.

The state Minister for Education, John Della Bosca, has also said he is open to a system of merit pay not based on student results. Mr Della Bosca and his state and territory colleagues last month rejected Ms Bishop's proposal to pilot performance pay in schools from next year, saying they would develop their own plans. Since then, Ms Bishop has said schools will be rewarded with up to $50,000 for outstanding results in numeracy and literacy. Schools could divide the money among their best teachers.

Federal Labor has said it would reward quality teaching using a merit-based system that took into account extra qualifications, professional development and working in rural and remote areas.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has said that from 2009 he would tie Commonwealth funding to the states and territories to the introduction of performance pay for teachers, giving principals more autonomy to hire and fire and providing parents with more detailed information on school performance. That information should also include cases of bullying and violence. The principals' plan is separate to another being devised by the national teacher union, the Australian Education Union.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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