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More Studies Finding That If Educators Are Good At Raising Test Scores, They Might Be Missing The Boat With Other Skills

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I’ve previously posted about studies that have found that the laser-like focus on raising student test scores often identifies teachers who are good at doing that, but those VAM-like measures tend to short-change educators who are good at developing Social Emotional or “non-cognitive skills” (see More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation ; Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations; Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills and SEL Weekly Update).

And those have been followed-up by further research finding that that ninth-grade teachers who are particularly good in helping student acquire non-cognitive skills are more successful “much larger in magnitude” in having students graduate and attend college than those whose work results in higher test scores alone (see You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson).

Two additional studies now reinforce the findings that focusing on test scores could result in teachers missing the boat on other critical factors.

Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies is the title of one by Matthew A. Kraft. Here’s an excerpt:

 

One additional practical benefit from his paper is that he reproduces in the appendix copies of simple surveys that have been used to measure perseverance and a growth mindset. No, they shouldn’t be used for high-stakes assessment (you can find lots of articles at The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources about why that’s a bad idea). However, I think they could be very useful for those of us in the classroom who want to use it in the spirit of being data-informed and not data-driven (The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”) as formative assessments.

Chalkbeat covers more research at When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.

And before some begin to wonder if “happiness” is a loosey-goosey term that means teachers just have to show movies and give out candy, the researcher instead finds that a pre-requisite for student happiness is creating an “emotionally supportive classroom environment.”

I think everyone would agree that this kind of atmosphere is a critical one for learning to flourish.

So, perhaps evaluating teacher effectiveness is far-more complicated than many think. Who would have thought?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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