Everyone knows that a good teacher makes a difference, but establishing who the good teachers are, and what difference they make, has long been a problem. A new study by economists at Harvard University attempts to answer these questions. They analysed the school records and earnings information for 2.5 million children, and found that, when a high “value added” teacher joins a new school, results for their class improve.
Having a high value-added teacher (in the top 5%) for one year raises a child’s cumulative lifetime income by $50,000. How this information is used is clearly a matter of policy, but any system that aims to reward good performance while supporting or punishing poor performance would need to be carefully designed and tested. An interesting article about the study can be found here.
Source: The long-term impacts of teachers: teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood (2011), American Economic Review
Further research into the effectiveness of performance pay programmes can be found in the Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit.
More than 70 policymakers, journalists, educators, and researchers attended a parliamentary event in November to hear more about the new Education Media Centre (EMC), a project of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Education. The EMC aims to capture and spread knowledge about what works in education, by directly supporting the national media.
Speakers talked about how the EMC will provide journalists and policy-makers with authoritative, independent, and accessible insights from education research, and so help them base their work on robust evidence. It will link journalists with expert researchers and solid evidence in a language that they can understand and within the timescales they need. The aim is to raise the quality of information that teachers and the general public receive through policy makers and the press, and so improve practice in classrooms and outcomes for children. You can read more about the EMC here
Source: Coalition for Evidence-based Education
Fashions and fads in education are a real problem in terms of evidence-based practice, says the IEE’s Robert Slavin on his blog. Without an evidence base, policies and practice swing between enthusiasms and no progress is made.
Fashions can even have an impact on commissioned research. Many evaluations are of government policies, but these have often gone out of favour by the time the research is published. He does offer a solution: “ have a wide array of research going on at all times that is creating and evaluating promising solutions to longstanding problems”.
Source: Stop the pendulum, I want to get off (2011), Education Week (Sputnik Blog)
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has shown a decline in the relative performance of England’s secondary pupils. Although this has been a concern to policy makers (and others) a new report from the Institute of Education argues that policy decisions should not be made on PISA findings alone. It suggests that England’s drop in the PISA ranking is not replicated in another major assessment, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The author, John Jerrim, argues that there are possible data limitations in both surveys.
Source: England’s “plummeting” PISA test scores between 2000 and 2009: Is the performance of our secondary school pupils really in relative decline? (2011), Department of Quantitative Social Science
Major football tournaments can be a serious distraction for some pupils, particularly during critical exam periods. A study by the Centre for Market and Public Organisation, published to coincide with the draw for next summer’s UEFA European football championship, found that some pupils perform less well in their GCSEs in years when there is a major international football tournament taking place. The effect was particularly noticeable for boys, and pupils from poorer areas, groups that are already lower performers on average.
Source: Student effort and educational attainment: Using the England football team to identify the education production function (2011), The Centre for Market and Public Organisation,