Teacher effect on performance

Recently read somewhere that researchers have found that teachers account for 10-20% of a student’s achievement levels.  My first reaction was, Gee that’s not much, people critical of teachers could use this in further judgment of the profession.  However, here is something to think about using this statistic.  Even taking the low end of improvement, a 10% increase raises a student from say a 65 (failing) to almost 72 and passing.  Conversely, a teacher could keep a 78 student from potentially failing.  This gets important to high school students who have a marginal connection to school.  If, at the end of their sophomore year they have failed several courses, they will not be in line to graduate with their class and they face needing to retake failed classes needed for graduation like English, math and history.  They also would be taking these classes with younger students—not cool and not likely to provide needed motivation.

At the upper end, the statistics would lead you to think that a student usually scoring 80 could be raised to a student scoring 96’s.  I’m not so sure of this.  That’s taking a C student and creating an A student.  While George Bush and his NCLB supporters might like that kind of calculating, the reality is that a C student in say English might be brought up to a B but not consistently in to the A range.


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I  have been reading blogs by Larry Cuban (larrycuban.wordpress.com), Sherman Dorn (shermandorn.wordpress.com) and schoolsmatter.info for some time and thought, Well why not spout off my 2 cents and try to get my few minutes of fame as well?  Actually, their comments are worth much more than 2 cents and I will try to come up to the level of thoughtful expression of their opinions.

I wanted to name my blog ‘jussayin’ but it was already taken.  The jussayin part comes from that term being frequently used by two very capable and funny colleagues.  The ‘me’ denotes that I live in Maine and is also a play on the fact that French Canadian’s (of which there are many in Maine) often end their sentences with that word, “I’ll be goin’ t’the store, me.”

The impetus for writing a blog now are the ridiculous education policies of Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and the take over of many areas of government by radical Right Republicans.  I have worked in a small, not very well-off, semi-rural school district as a Special Ed social worker for seventeen years.  About six years ago, I was President of our National Education Association local for three years, have negotiated a couple of contracts and tried to settle contract grievances.  If I gave a lot of thought to it, I’m probably a Social Democrat like those in Germany and Scandinavia.

Although I think that it is easy to believe that at many times in our lives the country is going to hell in a hand basket (Nixon, Reagan, Bush II), I think that right now it really could unless the Tea Partyers and those of their ilk are stopped from tearing apart union rights, public education and environmental progress.  The wealth of their backers coupled with the rabid ignorance of their followers and the precariousness of our economy is scary to me.

So, I’ll give it a try.

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