Strategies to promote teacher effectiveness

The Institute of Education Sciences has released a new evaluation brief that synthesises findings from two impact studies conducted by the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE). One study focused on a strategy of providing teachers  with feedback on their performance for two years (performance feedback), and the other study focused on a strategy of providing teachers with bonuses for four years based on their performance (pay-for-performance). Both strategies were supported by the Teacher Incentive Fund, which provided competitive grants to help US states and districts implement a multi-strategy approach to enhancing teacher effectiveness.

In each study, elementary and middle schools (primary schools) were randomly assigned to implement the strategy (the treatment group) or not (the control group). The performance feedback study included approximately 29,000 pupils and 1,000 teachers in grades 4–8, while the pay-for-performance study included approximately 38,000 pupils and 3,500 teachers in grades 3–8. Pupil outcomes were measured using end-of-year reading and maths scores.

Key findings were as follows:

  • Providing teachers with feedback on their performance for two years improved pupils’ maths achievement after the first year with a difference in scores that corresponds to an effect size of +0.05. The cumulative effect after two years of implementation was similar in magnitude but not statistically significant. The effect on reading in both years was positive but not statistically significant.
  • Providing teachers with bonuses based on their performance for four years improved pupils’ reading achievement after one, two and three years of implementation and pupils’ maths achievement after three years. After each of those periods of implementation, the effect size was +0.04 for reading and +0.06 for maths. However, as noted in the evaluation report, the impacts of pay-for-performance on classroom observation ratings did not appear to explain the impacts on pupil achievement, and in treatment schools, as many as 40% of teachers were unaware that they could earn a performance bonus.

The brief was prepared for NCEE by Andrew Wayne and Michael Garet of American Institutes for Research and Alison Wellington and Hanley Chiang of Mathematica Policy Research.

Source: Promoting educator effectiveness: the effects of two key strategies (March 2018), National Center for Education Evaluation, The Institute of Education Sciences

Helping pupils with disabilities transition from secondary school

A new report from the US National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) reviews the research on programmes that aim to help young people with disabilities make successful transitions beyond secondary school. Two promising approaches are identified:

  • community-based work programmes, which were found to have mixed effects on pupils’ employment outcomes and potentially positive effects on post-secondary education outcomes; and
  • functional life-skills development programmes, which were found to have potentially positive effects on independent living outcomes (although the extent of evidence was small).

NCEE’s search for transition research studies spanned the past two decades; however, relatively few studies (16) were found that met the What Works Clearinghouse standards for evidence of effectiveness. The authors offer several recommendations to researchers to try and help strengthen the evidence base.

For more on what works for children with disabilities, look out for the autumn issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine. It focuses on special education, including an article on functional skills, and will be available in September.

Source: Improving Post-High School Outcomes for Transition-Age Students with Disabilities: An Evidence Review, Institute of Education Sciences (2013).