from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Two recent educational studies -important issues 

crossposted at myleftwing and dailykos

It's time for an education related diary.  Because a lot of my time and energy are involved with the situation of Tom Fox (kidnapped American peace maker) I do not have much time for my own commentary.   So today I thought I would bring your attention to two recent studies published at the peer-reivewd but electronically published (and free) journal Education Policy Analysis Archives.  Then publication is worth scrolling through to see previous reports.   I wont' offer much commentary on either in the diary, but instead offer without comment the information released by EPAA (as it is commonly known) in the abstracts, which are posted to a large number of educationally related lists.  If you are interested in either  teacher preparation or the question of school choice and whether it improves test scores, both are worth the read.

The first is on the question of alternative tgeacher preparation programs, with a special focus on the heavily touted program Teach For America.   Here I note that my experience and observation is that one does not become a truly effective teacher by and large until one has several years of experience, which is why if someone tells me they plan to spend one or two years teaching before getting on with their lives I raise real questions.  It is not, in my mind, that they won't offer something more than what their students were previously receiving in the way of instruction, but that it represents a lack of commitment which in some way invevitably shortchanges those they teach and those with whom they work.   That is my point of view, and it was not changed by reading the article.

Here's the release:

EPAA has just published Volume 13 Number 42.

The article can be accessed directly from the

Recent Articles listing at the journal homepage:


An abstract follows:

         Does Teacher Preparation Matter?

       Evidence about Teacher Certification,

   Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness

             Linda Darling-Hammond

              Deborah J. Holtzman

                Su Jin Gatlin

             Julian Vasquez Heilig

              Stanford University


Recent debates about the utility of teacher education have raised questions about whether certified teachers are, in general, more effective than those who have not met the testing and training requirements for certification, and

whether some candidates with strong liberal arts backgrounds might be at least as effective as teacher education graduates. This study examines these questions with a large student-level data set from Houston, Texas

that links student characteristics and achievement with data about their teachers' certification status, experience, and degree levels from 1995-2002.

The data set also allows an examination of whether Teach for America

(TFA) candidates-recruits from selective universities who receive a few weeks of training before they begin teaching- are as effective as similarly experienced certified teachers. In a series of regression analyses looking at 4th and 5th grade student achievement gains on six different reading and mathematics tests over a six-year period, we find that certified teachers consistently produce stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers.

These findings hold for TFA recruits as well as others. Controlling for teacher experience, degrees, and student characteristics, uncertified TFA recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as  well as other uncertified teachers. TFA recruits who become certified after 2 or 3 years do about as well as other certified teachers in supporting student achievement gains; however, nearly all of them leave within three years. Teachers' effectiveness appears strongly related to the preparation they have received for teaching.

Citation: Darling-Hammond, L., Holtzman, D. J., Gatlin, S.

J., & Heilig, J. V. (2005, October 12). Does teacher

preparation matter? Evidence about teacher certification,

Teach for America, and teacher effectiveness. Education

Policy Analysis Archives, 13(42). Retrieved [date] from


The entire issue of school choice is an important political and social issue.  It is a major policy iniatiative on the right, claiming issue of liberty and freedom.  It has been championed, especially in the form of vouchers, beginning with Milton Friedman.  One argument used on its behalf is that it provide the marketplace of competition, which will therefore force schools to improve.  So any study that analyzes ACCURATELY (there are others that do so selectively) the impact of choice programs is an important contribution to this important policy debate.  Further, given the emphasis in NCLB on test-based accountability, the we need a coneptual framework that allows us to look at two key policy issues simultaneously, which to a degree this report does.  So here's the second release:

EPAA has just published Volume 13 Number 41.

The article can be accessed directly from the

Recent Articles listing at the journal homepage:


An abstract follows:

    On School Choice and Test-Based Accountability

                 Damian W. Betebenner

                    Boston College

                   Kenneth R. Howe

                  Samara S. Foster

               University of Colorado


Among the two most prominent school reform measures currently being implemented in The United States are school choice and test-based accountability. Until recently, the two policy initiatives remained relatively distinct from one another. With the passage of the No Child Left Behind

Act of 2001 (NCLB), a mutualism between choice and accountability emerged whereby school choice complements test-based accountability. In the first portion of this study we present a conceptual overview of school choice and

test-based accountability and explicate connections between the two that are explicit in reform implementations like NCLB or implicit within the market-based reform literature in which school choice and test-based accountability

reside. In the second portion we scrutinize the connections, in particular, between school choice and test- based accountability using a large western school district with a popular choice system in place. Data from three

sources are combined to explore the ways in which school choice and test-based accountability draw on each other: state assessment data of children in the district, school choice data for every participating student in the district

choice program, and a parental survey of both participants and non-participants of choice asking their attitudes concerning the use of school report cards in the district. Results suggest that choice is of benefit academically to only the lowest achieving students, choice participation is

not uniform across different ethnic groups in the district,

and parents' primary motivations as reported on a survey for participation in choice are not due to test scores, though this is not consistent with choice preferences among parents in the district. As such, our results generally

confirm the hypotheses of choice critics more so than advocates.

  Citation: Betebenner, D. W., Howe, K. R., & Foster, S. S.

(2005). On school choice and test-based accountability.

Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(41). Retrieved

[date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/....

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