ETS-Led Collaboration Receives Research Grant to Investigate Teaching Quality Measures
- Tom Ewing
- Tom Ewing
Princeton, NJ (January 22, 2009) —
Educational Testing Service (ETS) is leading a collaboration that will study teaching evaluation systems to gain a fuller understanding of what makes effective practice. The study also will investigate how various measures can provide information to support teacher development over the course of their careers.
ETS will work with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and The RAND Corporation on the "Understanding Teaching Quality" project. Supported by a three-year $7,348,925 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will evaluate the validity, utility and interrelationships of a range of measures currently in use to assess teaching effectiveness. Distinguished Researcher Drew Gitomer and Associate Research Scientist Courtney Bell are the lead ETS researchers on the effort.
The aim of the collaboration is to provide an empirical and methodological base for the development of robust teaching evaluation systems by the fall of 2012. The study will investigate the relationships of central teaching characteristics to student learning and engagement. These characteristics include qualities of instructional practice, classroom climate, and emotional support for students and teacher knowledge.
"Few would argue that the current system of identifying effective teachers is working," says Ida Lawrence, Senior Vice President of ETS Research & Development. "Through research, we know that the most commonly used indicators only weakly predict actual teaching effectiveness and that too many school districts have burdensome, outdated teacher evaluation systems, which provide little or no guidance on how to improve teaching practice.
"If improving teaching quality is to be the engine for greater student achievement, we need to know what contributes to quality classroom practice. We need to have measures that help identify and develop high-quality teachers," Lawrence says. "This study is the necessary first step in rethinking and redesigning practices of teacher evaluation in the educational system."
For the study, the researchers at ETS, University of Michigan and RAND will work with 450 middle school math and English language arts teachers over a two-year period. Each teacher will be observed four times over the course of one school year for the purpose of collecting evidence on a number of measures of teaching effectiveness. During these observational visits, the project team also will collect data about student assignments and teacher knowledge.
"The eventual goal will be to have a deep understanding of teacher quality and a set of measurement tools that can be used to develop evaluation programs capable of helping new and experienced teachers improve their teaching practice," Lawrence adds. "If we want to improve the quality of education in this country, we need to improve the quality of teaching. We hope that this study will be a significant step in that direction."
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® test and The Praxis Series™ assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org