Equity in Teacher Assignments


TO:              Board Members  

From:           Dave Shearon 

Date:            May 23, 2000

RE:              Student Achievement

  Dr. Bill Sanders' research into the data from TVAAS has probably produced no more compelling fact than this: three straight years of highly ineffective teachers destroy a child's academic chances. The graph on the following page, taken from "Graphical Summary of Educational Findings from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)1997" produced by the University of Tennessee Value-Added Research Center shows this effect clearly.

 The Research Committee met with Dr. Sanders last fall.  He confirmed the results of this analysis and noted that other researchers around the country, using different underlying tests, have confirmed the importance of the effectiveness of teachers on student achievement.  In fact, additional research conducted by Dr. June Rivers was reported to the Research Committee.  She has discovered that students in the bottom 25% of 4th graders in Tennessee who receive instruction in grades 5-8 from the more effective teachers pass the math portion of the high school competency test on the first try at a rate of 59%  Those who are in classes with less effective teachers only pass at a rate of 16%.  The attached charts report Dr. Rivers' findings. 

Our teachers design the experiences and work our students undertake in order to learn.  They explain, they question, they demonstrate, they encourage, they draw out their students in dialogue that helps students more firmly grasp the material they are studying.  Teachers prepare assignments to help students engage with the material, to understand and to apply it.  What we now know is that some teachers use approaches that work well for all students.  Some use techniques that work well with only some students.  And, some teachers are using unproductive approaches that do not work well with any students.  

 As this Board agreed in our priorities for negotiations, we have two responsibilities.  First, in the short term, to make sure that each student has a fair opportunity to benefit from the teachers who are, right now, most effective at helping students learn.  Second, we have an obligation to find out how teachers who are not currently having the success with students that they and we would like can, over the next few years, gain the techniques, knowledge, and skills they need to become more effective teachers.

 We should hold ourselves publicly accountable for the progress of this school system toward those goals.  I therefore will move at our next meeting that we instruct the Director of Schools to do the following: 

1.     Develop, in consultation with Dr. William Sanders, a method for determining how well we have been doing at insuring fairness to students in their assignment to teachers.

2.     Design a format for reporting to Nashville our degree of success and trends in such assignments.

3.     Report on the results of his efforts on 1 and 2, with the time for this report to be determined after consultation with Dr. Sanders.

4.     Recommend to the Board in the Fall of 2000 a goal for reducing the teacher effectiveness gap and a plan to achieve that goal.


Copyright 1998, 199, 2000, 2001  by David N. Shearon