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Teacher Effectiveness and Pupil Learning Gains: A Canadian Perspective from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement Jim Parsons Faculty of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Teacher Effectiveness and Pupil Learning Gains: A Canadian Perspective from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement Jim Parsons Faculty of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teacher Effectiveness and Pupil Learning Gains: A Canadian Perspective from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement Jim Parsons Faculty of Education University of Alberta Jim Parsons Faculty of Education University of Alberta

2 Our History SPIP - the Wonder Dog SPIP - the Wonder Dog The Standard Performance Indicator Program The Standard Performance Indicator Program Target low-achieving schools, and offer them research funding to improve Target low-achieving schools, and offer them research funding to improve SPIP - the Wonder Dog SPIP - the Wonder Dog The Standard Performance Indicator Program The Standard Performance Indicator Program Target low-achieving schools, and offer them research funding to improve Target low-achieving schools, and offer them research funding to improve

3 Our History The partners (as a community) rejected SPIP. The partners (as a community) rejected SPIP. The Minister of Education said: Then you do better. The Minister of Education said: Then you do better. AISI was born. AISI was born. The partners (as a community) rejected SPIP. The partners (as a community) rejected SPIP. The Minister of Education said: Then you do better. The Minister of Education said: Then you do better. AISI was born. AISI was born.

4 Our History AISI (somehow) pulled the partners together. AISI (somehow) pulled the partners together. Philosophically, centered on site-based, action research. Philosophically, centered on site-based, action research. Gave districts autonomy - recognized diversity Gave districts autonomy - recognized diversity Gave (forced into) teachers power and leadership Gave (forced into) teachers power and leadership Required research connections Required research connections AISI (somehow) pulled the partners together. AISI (somehow) pulled the partners together. Philosophically, centered on site-based, action research. Philosophically, centered on site-based, action research. Gave districts autonomy - recognized diversity Gave districts autonomy - recognized diversity Gave (forced into) teachers power and leadership Gave (forced into) teachers power and leadership Required research connections Required research connections

5 Our History Partners chose to require mixed-method assessment of projects. Partners chose to require mixed-method assessment of projects. 60% standardized 60% standardized 40% locally created 40% locally created Each districts projects had to submit annual reports and a final report. Each districts projects had to submit annual reports and a final report. Partners chose to require mixed-method assessment of projects. Partners chose to require mixed-method assessment of projects. 60% standardized 60% standardized 40% locally created 40% locally created Each districts projects had to submit annual reports and a final report. Each districts projects had to submit annual reports and a final report.

6 An example of mixed-methods Early Literacy Early Literacy 60% standardized 60% standardized Gates McGinnity used to assess reading levels Gates McGinnity used to assess reading levels Provincial achievement tests Provincial achievement tests 40% local 40% local Teacher-student meetings Teacher-student meetings Focus groups with other teachers Focus groups with other teachers Student portfolios Student portfolios Early Literacy Early Literacy 60% standardized 60% standardized Gates McGinnity used to assess reading levels Gates McGinnity used to assess reading levels Provincial achievement tests Provincial achievement tests 40% local 40% local Teacher-student meetings Teacher-student meetings Focus groups with other teachers Focus groups with other teachers Student portfolios Student portfolios

7 Huge Learning Curve None of the partners really knew what they were doing - Learning Cliff! None of the partners really knew what they were doing - Learning Cliff! Government representatives were by the book and managerial Government representatives were by the book and managerial Although projects and leaders changed within districts, the process didnt change Although projects and leaders changed within districts, the process didnt change Over the years, districts have begun to lead (as opposed to government) Over the years, districts have begun to lead (as opposed to government) None of the partners really knew what they were doing - Learning Cliff! None of the partners really knew what they were doing - Learning Cliff! Government representatives were by the book and managerial Government representatives were by the book and managerial Although projects and leaders changed within districts, the process didnt change Although projects and leaders changed within districts, the process didnt change Over the years, districts have begun to lead (as opposed to government) Over the years, districts have begun to lead (as opposed to government)

8 Caveat #1 - The End of the Story It is my belief that pupil gains in AISI - which were regular and almost unfailing - had more to do with teachers efficacy and the spin-offs of that than specific methods, programs, or curriculum ideas. It is my belief that pupil gains in AISI - which were regular and almost unfailing - had more to do with teachers efficacy and the spin-offs of that than specific methods, programs, or curriculum ideas.

9 Caveat #2 It is my belief that, to understand any one aspect of a system (e.g. pupil gains), one must work to understand what happened throughout the entire system. It is my belief that, to understand any one aspect of a system (e.g. pupil gains), one must work to understand what happened throughout the entire system. For example, success was not so much a particular kind of assessment but the way assessing happened within the context - geography and history. For example, success was not so much a particular kind of assessment but the way assessing happened within the context - geography and history. It is my belief that, to understand any one aspect of a system (e.g. pupil gains), one must work to understand what happened throughout the entire system. It is my belief that, to understand any one aspect of a system (e.g. pupil gains), one must work to understand what happened throughout the entire system. For example, success was not so much a particular kind of assessment but the way assessing happened within the context - geography and history. For example, success was not so much a particular kind of assessment but the way assessing happened within the context - geography and history.

10 Caveat #3 It is my belief that growth in the system generally and in assessment specifically occurred through the work of stories, disciplines, exemplars, and creative rehearsals. [a lore was created and expanded] It is my belief that growth in the system generally and in assessment specifically occurred through the work of stories, disciplines, exemplars, and creative rehearsals. [a lore was created and expanded]

11 Caveat #4 It is my belief that teachers live in a world defined by what works. This means that the end of any conversation (including research and assessment conversations) is sustainable practice pointed towards successful student learning. It is my belief that teachers live in a world defined by what works. This means that the end of any conversation (including research and assessment conversations) is sustainable practice pointed towards successful student learning.

12 Caveat #5 It is my belief that research is not that complex - although human issues are. We start with three basic questions: It is my belief that research is not that complex - although human issues are. We start with three basic questions: What do we want? (e.g. what kind of people do we want?) What do we want? (e.g. what kind of people do we want?) How can we create a space where this can happen? (e.g. where these people can grow?) How can we create a space where this can happen? (e.g. where these people can grow?) How can we know if we are successful? (e.g. how can we see growth?) How can we know if we are successful? (e.g. how can we see growth?) It is my belief that research is not that complex - although human issues are. We start with three basic questions: It is my belief that research is not that complex - although human issues are. We start with three basic questions: What do we want? (e.g. what kind of people do we want?) What do we want? (e.g. what kind of people do we want?) How can we create a space where this can happen? (e.g. where these people can grow?) How can we create a space where this can happen? (e.g. where these people can grow?) How can we know if we are successful? (e.g. how can we see growth?) How can we know if we are successful? (e.g. how can we see growth?)

13 Caveat #6 It is my belief that there are 5 keys to good assessment. Good assessment is: It is my belief that there are 5 keys to good assessment. Good assessment is: 1. Aligned to overall goals (e.g. student needs). 1. Aligned to overall goals (e.g. student needs). 2. Informative (based on information) 2. Informative (based on information) 3. Negotiated (built through conversation) 3. Negotiated (built through conversation) 4. Transparent (there are no tricky things) 4. Transparent (there are no tricky things) 5. Constant (e.g. regularly done) 5. Constant (e.g. regularly done) It is my belief that there are 5 keys to good assessment. Good assessment is: It is my belief that there are 5 keys to good assessment. Good assessment is: 1. Aligned to overall goals (e.g. student needs). 1. Aligned to overall goals (e.g. student needs). 2. Informative (based on information) 2. Informative (based on information) 3. Negotiated (built through conversation) 3. Negotiated (built through conversation) 4. Transparent (there are no tricky things) 4. Transparent (there are no tricky things) 5. Constant (e.g. regularly done) 5. Constant (e.g. regularly done)

14 Caveat #7 It is my belief that the information I present would be challenged by some. Although I have attempted to earn the right to share findings, the findings are what I saw - and others might have seen other things. It is my belief that the information I present would be challenged by some. Although I have attempted to earn the right to share findings, the findings are what I saw - and others might have seen other things.

15 What worked? (according to Jim) 1. Each project was linked to accountability. Final reports were required as part of the funding - no report, no funding! Final reports were required as part of the funding - no report, no funding! As a result, teachers and districts had to fill out reports and, consequently, wrote in their own words about what they had learned. As a result, teachers and districts had to fill out reports and, consequently, wrote in their own words about what they had learned. 1. Each project was linked to accountability. Final reports were required as part of the funding - no report, no funding! Final reports were required as part of the funding - no report, no funding! As a result, teachers and districts had to fill out reports and, consequently, wrote in their own words about what they had learned. As a result, teachers and districts had to fill out reports and, consequently, wrote in their own words about what they had learned.

16 What worked? 2. Grass roots professional development Teachers began to talk to other teachers (locally and across the province). Teachers began to talk to other teachers (locally and across the province). Teachers talked about their own projects at educational conferences. Teachers talked about their own projects at educational conferences. Teachers invaded colleagues classrooms. Teachers invaded colleagues classrooms. AISI became a center of conversation. AISI became a center of conversation. 2. Grass roots professional development Teachers began to talk to other teachers (locally and across the province). Teachers began to talk to other teachers (locally and across the province). Teachers talked about their own projects at educational conferences. Teachers talked about their own projects at educational conferences. Teachers invaded colleagues classrooms. Teachers invaded colleagues classrooms. AISI became a center of conversation. AISI became a center of conversation.

17 What worked? 3. Teachers engaged the research literature. Started slowly Started slowly Research became part of the process Research became part of the process Research became part of the language Research became part of the language Research became part of the culture Research became part of the culture 3. Teachers engaged the research literature. Started slowly Started slowly Research became part of the process Research became part of the process Research became part of the language Research became part of the language Research became part of the culture Research became part of the culture

18 What worked? 4. Teachers took ownership of their schools projects. Started with named leadership Started with named leadership Became a natural occurrence Became a natural occurrence Teachers talked with other teachers who also had project results to share Teachers talked with other teachers who also had project results to share 4. Teachers took ownership of their schools projects. Started with named leadership Started with named leadership Became a natural occurrence Became a natural occurrence Teachers talked with other teachers who also had project results to share Teachers talked with other teachers who also had project results to share

19 What worked? 5. Teachers came to identify as researchers. Co-optation of research language Co-optation of research language Evidence-based decision-making Evidence-based decision-making Fluency was gained Fluency was gained Research talk became cultural Research talk became cultural 5. Teachers came to identify as researchers. Co-optation of research language Co-optation of research language Evidence-based decision-making Evidence-based decision-making Fluency was gained Fluency was gained Research talk became cultural Research talk became cultural

20 What worked? 6. Partner relationships. Meetings where partners talked together. Meetings where partners talked together. New and improved relations between universities and the provincial government. New and improved relations between universities and the provincial government. Partners now actually work together better. Partners now actually work together better. Parents became a more integral part of the work. Parents became a more integral part of the work. 6. Partner relationships. Meetings where partners talked together. Meetings where partners talked together. New and improved relations between universities and the provincial government. New and improved relations between universities and the provincial government. Partners now actually work together better. Partners now actually work together better. Parents became a more integral part of the work. Parents became a more integral part of the work.

21 Insights/Suggestions (according to Jim) 1. Avoid over-managing projects Local leaders have historically suggested tighter management of projects (it seems to be how they see their work) Local leaders have historically suggested tighter management of projects (it seems to be how they see their work) The result is that the bird is held too tightly - teachers wont grow into leadership The result is that the bird is held too tightly - teachers wont grow into leadership It is very difficult to trust the created space, but it is the better way to work. It is very difficult to trust the created space, but it is the better way to work. 1. Avoid over-managing projects Local leaders have historically suggested tighter management of projects (it seems to be how they see their work) Local leaders have historically suggested tighter management of projects (it seems to be how they see their work) The result is that the bird is held too tightly - teachers wont grow into leadership The result is that the bird is held too tightly - teachers wont grow into leadership It is very difficult to trust the created space, but it is the better way to work. It is very difficult to trust the created space, but it is the better way to work.

22 Insights/Suggestions 2. Encourage the triadic relationship with research (Walker Percy) Teachers can read other research to access how it speaks to their site Teachers can read other research to access how it speaks to their site But, actually doing research impacts teachers in powerful ways But, actually doing research impacts teachers in powerful ways Using research to support change as the end goal Using research to support change as the end goal 2. Encourage the triadic relationship with research (Walker Percy) Teachers can read other research to access how it speaks to their site Teachers can read other research to access how it speaks to their site But, actually doing research impacts teachers in powerful ways But, actually doing research impacts teachers in powerful ways Using research to support change as the end goal Using research to support change as the end goal

23 Insights/Suggestions 3. There is a relationship between the health of the teachers and student gains Teachers (in Canada) seek teaching because they like children and want to make a difference Teachers (in Canada) seek teaching because they like children and want to make a difference Teachers (in Canada) can become cynical and jaded as they come to believe they cannot make a difference. Teachers (in Canada) can become cynical and jaded as they come to believe they cannot make a difference. Opportunities for real change is empowering. Opportunities for real change is empowering. 3. There is a relationship between the health of the teachers and student gains Teachers (in Canada) seek teaching because they like children and want to make a difference Teachers (in Canada) seek teaching because they like children and want to make a difference Teachers (in Canada) can become cynical and jaded as they come to believe they cannot make a difference. Teachers (in Canada) can become cynical and jaded as they come to believe they cannot make a difference. Opportunities for real change is empowering. Opportunities for real change is empowering.

24 Jim Gibbons (President of Superintendents of Alberta) The biggest gain I have seen is teacher capacity to reflect on their own practice, engage in professional conversations that reference current research and employ action research strategies of data gathering, analysis, and measurement. The biggest gain I have seen is teacher capacity to reflect on their own practice, engage in professional conversations that reference current research and employ action research strategies of data gathering, analysis, and measurement. A further point is the confidence to embrace change and celebration of teacher craft knowledge in moving schools and systems towards improvement. A further point is the confidence to embrace change and celebration of teacher craft knowledge in moving schools and systems towards improvement. It is truly exciting to be a teacher today! The biggest gain I have seen is teacher capacity to reflect on their own practice, engage in professional conversations that reference current research and employ action research strategies of data gathering, analysis, and measurement. The biggest gain I have seen is teacher capacity to reflect on their own practice, engage in professional conversations that reference current research and employ action research strategies of data gathering, analysis, and measurement. A further point is the confidence to embrace change and celebration of teacher craft knowledge in moving schools and systems towards improvement. A further point is the confidence to embrace change and celebration of teacher craft knowledge in moving schools and systems towards improvement. It is truly exciting to be a teacher today!

25 Learnings About Assessment (according to Jim) 1. Requiring regularized assessment helps projects gain robust data. 1. Even when teachers are not certain what they are doing, their attempts provide insight. 2. One needs to be critical (not negative) of the data. 1. Requiring regularized assessment helps projects gain robust data. 1. Even when teachers are not certain what they are doing, their attempts provide insight. 2. One needs to be critical (not negative) of the data.

26 Learnings About Assessment 2. The balance of standardized assessment and local (teacher-created) assessment seemed to provide confidence for partners and allow teacher-created data-collection to exist.

27 Learnings About Assessment 3. Standardized assessments proved to teachers, school leaders, and others that positive change was occurring. (i) Although people do not understand data, they seem to trust it. (ii) hard and soft data and effect size are terms that persuade 3. Standardized assessments proved to teachers, school leaders, and others that positive change was occurring. (i) Although people do not understand data, they seem to trust it. (ii) hard and soft data and effect size are terms that persuade

28 Learnings About Assessment 4. Districts (and teachers) can create their own assessments. The action of creating assessments is critically empowering. It is the side door to deeper conversations about the entire act of research and assessment.

29 Learnings About Assessment 5. The use of external support for guidance and critique helped. (i) Sometimes an outsider can help teachers and districts (and others) dare to name changes (especially strengths) (ii) The learning curve is large and comes as those involved act with agency. 5. The use of external support for guidance and critique helped. (i) Sometimes an outsider can help teachers and districts (and others) dare to name changes (especially strengths) (ii) The learning curve is large and comes as those involved act with agency.

30 Learnings About Assessment 6. Teachers talking with other teachers - districts taking with other districts - helped spread ideas. (i) space and time were valuable resources - when teachers saw that districts would give time during school, they said this are serious. (ii) teachers and school leaders are capable of serious and deep learning conversations 6. Teachers talking with other teachers - districts taking with other districts - helped spread ideas. (i) space and time were valuable resources - when teachers saw that districts would give time during school, they said this are serious. (ii) teachers and school leaders are capable of serious and deep learning conversations

31 Learnings About Assessment 7. The successful (regardless of assessment) did not quiet critics, who criticized AISI more for personal reasons than for pragmatic (did it work?) reasons. (i) Old slights die hard (ii) One cannot convince some people with any amount of success (iii) Outside experts are not convinced by local findings to alter their own insights. 7. The successful (regardless of assessment) did not quiet critics, who criticized AISI more for personal reasons than for pragmatic (did it work?) reasons. (i) Old slights die hard (ii) One cannot convince some people with any amount of success (iii) Outside experts are not convinced by local findings to alter their own insights.

32 Learnings About Assessment 8. Outside experts (those well-known) generally become outside experts because they have certainty. (i) They know how to manage and they support managerial styles (ii) What they learn on one site, they transfer to another. They are not moved to re- vision by unique evidence. (iii) There is a tendency to stand before, not with, local initiatives. [We make them.] 8. Outside experts (those well-known) generally become outside experts because they have certainty. (i) They know how to manage and they support managerial styles (ii) What they learn on one site, they transfer to another. They are not moved to re- vision by unique evidence. (iii) There is a tendency to stand before, not with, local initiatives. [We make them.]

33 Learnings About Assessment 9. Outside experts are helpful in telling the story and spreading the word. (i) They make success more internally acceptable - they bless it. (ii) They tended to be accepted by AISI critics - who were, themselves, comfortable with hierarchy. 9. Outside experts are helpful in telling the story and spreading the word. (i) They make success more internally acceptable - they bless it. (ii) They tended to be accepted by AISI critics - who were, themselves, comfortable with hierarchy.

34 Learnings About Assessment 10. Teachers are capable of running research projects. (i) The upside for building teacher grass- roots leadership is huge. (ii) A key is to create the space and trust teachers to work within that space. 10. Teachers are capable of running research projects. (i) The upside for building teacher grass- roots leadership is huge. (ii) A key is to create the space and trust teachers to work within that space.

35 Jims Biggest Learning Teachers and school leaders become motivated by three ideas: (i) Community (ii) Agency (iii) Service Teachers and school leaders become motivated by three ideas: (i) Community (ii) Agency (iii) Service

36 Opportunities to Teach Research What old researchers know that young researchers do not know is how robust data can be -- you think you need more, but in fact data can be exceedingly rich. What old researchers know that young researchers do not know is how robust data can be -- you think you need more, but in fact data can be exceedingly rich. The main task of a researcher is to look deeply at the data -- hold it, spin it, and make sense of it. If this process is done well, it helps all who care about improving schools gain insight. The main task of a researcher is to look deeply at the data -- hold it, spin it, and make sense of it. If this process is done well, it helps all who care about improving schools gain insight. What old researchers know that young researchers do not know is how robust data can be -- you think you need more, but in fact data can be exceedingly rich. What old researchers know that young researchers do not know is how robust data can be -- you think you need more, but in fact data can be exceedingly rich. The main task of a researcher is to look deeply at the data -- hold it, spin it, and make sense of it. If this process is done well, it helps all who care about improving schools gain insight. The main task of a researcher is to look deeply at the data -- hold it, spin it, and make sense of it. If this process is done well, it helps all who care about improving schools gain insight.

37 Thanks


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