Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Annotation of Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other: The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers

This study examines the benefit of having high quality teachers in schools to positively affect their students’ performance as well as influence the performance of their teacher colleagues’ students. The study found that when high quality teachers are in a school that there are “peer spillover” effects. This means that teachers may be motivated change their amount of effort and teaching practices when they observe and/or are aware of what a highly effective teacher is doing. This peer learning is a positive influence in increasing teacher effectiveness over time. Indeed teachers perform better when their colleagues have a high level of professional excellence. In particular, new to the profession teachers benefit more from working with high quality teachers as they generally are receptive to feedback about their teaching performance.

An analysis of 11 years (1995 to 2006) of testing data on 3-5 graders in North Carolina was used. The researchers measured teacher quality using teaching experiences, license exam score, and a calculated a “value-added” score using data from teachers’ previous year’s students standardized test results in reading and mathematics. As expected students of teachers with less teaching experience and lower licensing exam scores performed more poorly than their peers who had more experienced teachers with higher exam scores. All the teachers had North Carolina issued regular licenses.

Want to read the study?

Jackson, C. K., & Bruegmann, E. (2009). Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other: The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers. NBER Working Paper Series. Retrieved September 8, 2009 from www.nber.org/papers/w15202

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Academics Trumps Transportation, but Transportation Woes are a Barrier to School Choice

Rain is falling on this first day of school in my area. So the bus stops are full of colorful umbrellas and raincoats providing a festive appearance to the day. School buses are a staple in American public education. Given that nationally 55% of students are daily school bus riders spending an average of 90 minutes (45 minutes each way) on the bus each day, transportation is a considerable issue both in terms of time and public dollars. An issue that influences school choice.

A study was conducted in Denver, Colorado (some public transportation and most people have cars) and Washington, DC (mass transit and fewer families have cars) to determine the degree to which transportation influences school choice for families earning $75,000 or less per year. Approximately 75% of the parents had considered where to send their children to school (i.e., private, zoned, or public charter) and about half had opted for a school other than their zoned school. The top ranked reasons for school choice were:

  • #1 Academic Quality
  • #2 Location/Convenience
  • #3 School Environment

Overall, 56% of parents were very satisfied with their zoned public school compared to 66% for charter schools and 81% for private schools. The study found that transportation was a barrier to families sending students to another school for a better academic program when the family earns less than $20,000 per year. Further, a third of these families were unaware of transportation options provided by their school district to transport their child to another school. For families earning $40,000-$75,000 per year, the parents were typically satisfied with their school options. A challenge identified by the researchers is for school districts to make families aware of their options for transportation.

Want to Read the Study? Tesk, P., Fitzpatrick, J., & O’Brien, T. (2009). Drivers of Choice: Parents, Transportation, and School Choice. Center on Reinventing Public Education: Washington, DC. Retrieved on September 8, 2009 from http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/download/csr_files/pub_dscr_teske_jul09.pdf


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