Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teachers as critical text analysts (2008)

Gebhard, M., Demers, J., Castill-Rosenthal, Z.C. (2008). Teachers as critical text analysts: L2 literacies and teachers’ work in the context of high-stakes school reform. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17, 274-291.

"In regard to the connection between literacy practices and social change, the first author asks teachers to think about how the construction of classroom contexts and accompanying school identities is not simply a matter of common sense (Fairclough, 1992). Rather, she asks them to consider how the nature of U.S. schooling practices, and therefore academic literacy practices, have their origins as well as possible trajectories in the unpredictable convergence of past, present, and future political and economic struggles. For example, analysts of the transformation of educational practices in the United States have made convincing arguments that the nature of schooling today can be traced to the amalgamated forces of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration during the early 1900s (Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Fass, 1989; Hargreaves, 1994; Tyack, 1974). A sample of some of the enduring reforms that resulted from the merging of these three powerful forces include the conversion of the one-room schoolhouse into what we now associate with a modern public schooling system. This system typically strives for efficiency by grouping students by age or perceived ability; apprenticing students to differentiated literacy practices to prepare them to enter a differentiated workforce; and reinforcing curricular, instructional, and assessment practices based on modernist assumptions of language, learning, and what counts as evidence of knowing.

A full treatment of how these now commonplace innovations to compulsory education and commonsense ways of teaching ELLs have outlived their utility in a post-modern, information driven economyis beyond the scope of this paper and has been treated by others inmore detail (e.g., Cope & Kalantzis, 1993; Gebhard, 2004, 2005; Gee,Hull,&Lankshear, 1996; New London Group, 1996). However, many analysts believe that in a post-industrial, technology-driven, and globalized economy, schooling must be reconceived to prepare non-dominant students to participate more fully in a very different kind of economic order than the one that existed when manufacturing jobs were plentiful. Namely, these analysts argue that for linguistically and culturally diverse students to negotiate their way through a post-industrial world of work, they must be able to engage strategically and fluidly in the symbolic work of positioning and repositioning themselves through their use of multimodal texts (e.g., New London Group, 1996). These students are better able to accomplish this task when they are in command of many, often hybrid, literacy practices and associated ways of being (e.g., Dyson, 1993, 2003; Gebhard, 2005; Gee et al., 1996; Gutierrez, Rymes, & Larson, 1995; New London Group, 1996; Solsken, Willett, & Wilson-Keenan, 2000). Moreover, students are more likely to engage in this kind of strategic semiotic work if they have been in classrooms with teachers who have a critical awareness of language and know how to apprentice students to using high-stakes genres to accomplish cognitive, social, and political work they care about (Dyson, 1993; Gebhard et al., 2007)." (p. 277)

In this article, they described how two teachers "decoded" and "translated" a first grade student's writing from something that looked like remedial work into a more autonomous narrative gave Jan and Zoe insights into the kind of instruction teachers need to provide to students like Sara.

Sara's story (translated): "There was a music teacher named Mrs. Catto. The music teacher went to a new school. There were two girls who did not know how to do music because they were fooling around all the time. Then the music teacher cried and cried a lot and a lot. Then the music teacher had an idea. She called her friend. Her friend put a rat in a bag and scared the kids. The kids cried and cried. Then Ms. Catto rescued the kids and they all celebrated music."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cummins, J. (2000). Language proficiency in academic contexts

Cummins, J. (2000). Language proficiency in academic contexts (Ch. 3) . In Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Notes:

Conversational/Academic Language Proficiency Distinction The distinction between BICS and CALP (Cummins, 1979b) was intended to draw educators’ attention to these data and to warn against premature exit of ELL students (in the United States) from bilingual to mainstream English-only programs on the basis of attainment of surface level fluency in English. In other words, the distinction highlighted the fact that educators’ conflating of these aspects of proficiency was a major factor in the creation of academic difficulties for bilingual students. p58

Conversation and composition (Bereiter and Scardamalia)
Bereiter and Scardamalia (1981) have analyzed the problems of learning to write as problems of converting a language production system geared to conversation over to a language production system capable of functioning by itself. They argue that the absence of normal conversational supports makes writing a radically different kind of task from conversation. Specifically, in writing the individual must:
+learn to continue to produce language without the prompting that comes from a conversational partner;
+learn to search his or her own memory instead of having memories triggered by what other people say;
+plan large units of discourse instead of planning only what will be said next;
+learn to function as both sender and receiver, the latter function being necessary for revision.

They suggest that the oral production system must be reconstructed to function autonomously rather than interactively if effective writing abilities are to develop. Furthermore, they suggest that as mastery increases there is progressive automatization of lower-level skills (e.g. handwriting, spelling of common words, punctuation, common syntactic forms) which releases increasingly more mental capacity for higher-level planning of large chunks of discourse. p64

Thus, the social practice of schooling entails certain ‘rules of the game’ with respect to how communication and language use is typically organized within that context. In short, in the present context the construct of academic language proficiency refers not to any absolute notion of expertise in using language but to the degree to which an individual has access to and expertise in understanding and using the specific kind of language that is employed in educational contexts and is required to complete academic tasks. p66

FIGURE 3.1 Range of contextual support and degree of cognitive involvement in language tasks and activities
Quadrant A cognitively undemanding, context embedded: casual conversation
Quadrant B cognitively demanding, context embedded: persuading another individual that your point of view is correct
Quadrant C cognitively undemanding, context reduced: copying notes from the blackboard, filling in worksheets, or other forms of drill and practice activities
Quadrant D cognitively demanding, context embedded: writing an essay using academic language

A central implication of the framework in Figure 3.1 for instruction of second language learners is that language and content will be acquired most successfully when students are challenged cognitively but provided with the contextual and linguistic supports or scaffolds required for successful task completion. In other words, optimal instruction for linguistic, cognitive and academic growth will tend to move from Quadrant A, to B, and from Quadrant B to D. Quadrant C activities maybe included from time to time for reinforcement or practice of particular points. This progression corresponds very closely to the stages that Gibbons (1995, 1998) observed in her research on classroom discourse in science teaching. She distinguished three stages:
+Small group work.
+Teacher guided reporting.
+Journal writing.


Judy Haynes - Everything ESL

BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills
CALP: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency

English language learners (ELLs) employ BIC skills when they are on the playground, in the lunch room,on the school bus, at parties, playing sports and talking on the telephone. Social interactions are usually context embedded. They occur in a meaningful social context. They are not very demanding cognitively. The language required is not specialized. These language skills usually develop within six months to two years after arrival in the U.S.

CALP refers to formal academic learning. This includes listening, speaking, reading, and writing about subject area content material. This level of language learning is essential for students to succeed in school. Students need time and support to become proficient in academic areas. This usually takes from five to seven years. Recent research (Thomas & Collier, 1995) has shown that if a child has no prior schooling or has no support in native language development, it may take seven to ten years for ELLs to catch up to their peers.]

Corson (1997). The learning and use of academic English words (Graeco-Latin academic vocabulary)

Corson, D. (1997). The learning and use of academic English words. Language Learning, 47(4), 671-718.

Notes:
Corson's basic argument is that familiarity with the Graeco-Latin academic vocabulary of English is essential to academic success; however, many learners from some sociocultural backgrounds do not get exposed to this vocabulary outside school, and have difficulty aquiring this vocabulary inside schools. (p.671)

All other things being equal, students achieve formal entry to academic institutions largely because their life experiences outside schools give them widespread informal entry to the meaning systems valued inside educational institutions (p674)

Academic meaning systems, in particular, have been shaped by the special culture of literacy over several millennia. They are the world's most influential meaning systems. In English speaking cultures, their history has much to do with the development in Britain ofa rather exclusive culture ofliteracy which later spread to newly British-founded or -colonized parts of the world. This culture ofliteracy became institutionalized in formal education, where high value was placed on the daily use of Latin for all spoken purposes and on the rigorous study of Greek. It then became the basis for a greatly enlarged English vocabulary drawn directly from those languages. (p676)

Academic Graeco-Latin words are mainly literary in their use. Most native speakers of English begin to encounter these words in quantity in their upper primary school reading and in the formal secondary school setting. So the words' introduction in literature or textbooks, rather than in conversation, restricts people's access to them. (p677)

Olson, like Vygotsky (1962), reckoned that "to be literate it is not enough to know the words; one must learn how to participate in the discourse of some textual community" (1994, p. 273): People need to know the rules of use to put words to work. Learning the rules of use comes from talking about texts whose meaning systems embed the signs to be learned, especially words that are unfamiliar in form and meaning. (p684)

Evidence confirms that after children's earliest years, their vocabulary growth is related to the ability to handle greater morphemic complexity. This development is also associated with greater language knowledge (Clark & Berman, 1987; Clark, Hecht, & Mulford, 1986; Hancin-Bhatt & Nagy, 1994). Different word types and differences in knowledge of morphology affect the growth of vocabulary. In general, derived words (e.g., driver, happiness) seem to be acquired later than either inflected words (e.g., walking, fastest) or compound words (e.g., lampshade). But polymorphemic words come even later still. (p688)

Graeco-Latin words in English tend to be opaque, even for most L11angnage users. For ESL users, they tend to be opaque if the learners have had no experience with their etymology when learning English or came from a language background greatly removed structurally from Latin and Greek. These words also have a very low frequency of use in most people's everyday discourse. In summary, the attributes ofGraeco-Latin word difficulty are as follows: They are usually non-concrete, low in imagery, low in frequency, and semantically opaque. (p696)

KEY POINT:
In the long run, however, knowing the meaning of an academic word is knowing how to use it within an appropriate meaning system. So the key achievement in word learning is knowing where the word fits within its own meaning system and being able to use it in a motivated way to take an active part in that particular meaning system. (p700)

Natural language conversations with native English speakers, linked to instructional exchanges, seem the best means for stimulating the learning and the use of academic vocabulary (Crandall, 1997; Singleton, 1997). (p704)

The best language learning environment in schools would also develop students' critical language awareness. In the context of this article, this would involve developing their critical awareness ofthe use and functions of academic Graeco-Latin words. It is certainly important for novice users to know that sometimes these words can be used negatively, as instruments of unnecessary formality or to exercise power (Corson, 1995). Making this critical kind oflanguage awareness available to students would help strip away some of the unwanted rules of use that these words have acquired over time: rules of use that exclude people from interaction; rules of use that create a high status for the word user that is not justified by the context; and rules of use that offer a means of language evaluation that is not required by the subject matter. (p710)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Azibo (1992) - Critique of the comparative research framework

Azibo, D. (1992). Understanding the proper and improper usage of the comparative research framework. In A. Burlew, W. Banks, H. McAdoo, D. Azibo (Eds) African-American Psychology. London: Sage.

Notes:
The comparative research framework, contrasting distinct groups by statistical significance tests, is examined for major epistemological and practical problems inherent in its usage with African-European (Black-White) groups.

The comparative research framework requires a statistical significance test between any two groups, like race, sex, or treatment groups. Its epistemological base as science rests on John Stuart Mills' method of difference canon. Fundamentally, this canon "requires that the two groups be equated, i.e., equal in all respects ... on relevant variables ... known or believed to [have] influence" (Plutchik, 1974, p. 179). If the comparison groups are not equated as specified in the canon, then the observed difference can only be described; any attempt to interpret or otherwise address the meaning of the difference, especially in terms of a presumed underlying construct, is epistemologically baseless. There can be no meaning or interpretation given to the difference, nor can causality be inferred.

Culture (Nobles, 1982) is defined as patterns for interpreting reality that give people a general design for living, and consists of surface (e.g., folkways, language, behavior, beliefs, values) and deep structures (ethos, worldview, ideology, cosmology, axiology, ontology). Culture is important because it determines the meaning attached to the observed facts. Surface structure differences between Africans and Europeans would appear self-evident.

Three axioms are given regarding the proper and improper usage of the comparative research framework:
1. It is proper to make racial comparisons using the comparative research framework when the racial groups are equated on all relevant variables, especially that of culture (there is a caveat here which will be introduced below);
2. It is improper if the racial groups are not equated on any relevant variable to do more than describe or report the difference; and
3. Whenever constructs are employed in the research, culture will be relevant.

For example, Ogletree (1976) has shown why locus of control may not be an appropriate construct for African-Americans. Her argument mainly deals with cultural surface structure differences that render the control ideology thesis void.5 The cultural deep structure level might pose problems for the achievement orientation construct which, in the Eurocentric way, may include aspects of individualism and Machiavellianism; as opposed to the collectivism and Maat (Carruthers, 1984; Hilliard, Williams, & Damali, 1987; Karenga, 1984) characteristic of the Africentric way.


Transubstantive error is defined as making a wrong and assumptive conclusion about the value of people and what they mean by looking at their surface behaviors. --
Byron Gafford and Wendy Mi-Shing Fong quoting Wade Nobles. Dr. Nobles is a tenured professor in Black Studies at San Francisco State University and the executive director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture in Oakland. [Source]

It follows that all anti-essentialist arguments, especially those decrying soul or spirit, that arise out of Western-based discourse including modern-day social constructionism, are based in what Ryle (1949) called category mistakes and the African Psychology Institute (1982) called transubstantive error. These concepts refer to mistakes of meaning occurring when the phenomenon being studied is comprehended with a set of cognitions which do not parameterize it or to which it does not belong. [link]

transubstantation
tran·sub·stan·ti·a·tion
Noun:
1. (esp. in the Roman Catholic Church) The conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ
2. A change in the form or substance of something.


Wikipedia:
Epistemology (episteme), meaning knowledge, science, study of meaning, is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions: What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know?

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hawkins, M.R. (2004). Researching English Language and Literacy Development in Schools.

Hawkins, M.R. (2004). Researching English Language and Literacy Development in Schools. Educational Researcher, 33, 14-25 [http://edr.sagepub.com/content/33/3/14]

Notes:
The official discourse, as has been communicated through the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 rhetoric and the concomitant focus on standards and assessment, says that minority children, especially English language learners (ELLs) must gain “standard” English language skills in an unreasonably short time frame, while achieving on par with native English speaking students in academic content areas.

Hawkins posit a view of language, learning, and teaching that sees meanings and understandings constructed not in individual heads, but as between humans engaged in specific situated social interactions. p15

p17 We need to explore and identify not only how our learners are coming to acquire new language skills, but what forms of languages are represented and available to them.

Norton (2000) defines identity as "how a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future"

Situated identities only “work” if they are recognized and taken up in the interaction p19

[Hawkins] realized that academic instruction, no matter how well prepared, isn’t enough to ensure language learning and academic competence for all students. And [she] saw how social status affects participation, and how participation affords status and access to more language and interaction. [Hawkins] came to see the teachers’ role as managing the ecology, as opposed to designing instruction, with the notion of "ecology" spanning not only the classroom, but also the school day and all the activities therein. p21

What may differ for ELLs of all ages is the lack of access to the privileged linguistic codes; greater variance in understandings of what school, learning, and literacies mean and might look like; different patterns of communication, interactions, beliefs, and behaviors; and differing experiences with and exposures to the natural and lived world. p22

[A teacher's] job, rather than "teaching English," is to offer students access to the range of knowledge, abilities, and forms of language (discourses) that will enable them to lay claim to the social identities that afford them a participant status in the social communities of their choice, and to provide scaffolding (and a truly supportive environment) for the attainment of these. p23


Throughout this article, data on one focal learner, Shoua, was used as an exemplar of claims and theoretical constructs. Shoua’s home language was Hmong. She had been born in the same town in which she now lived, and had even attended preschool there. Shoua had no siblings close to her own age, nor did she interact with age-level peers outside of school. She also had little exposure to English outside of school. She scored extremely low upon kindergarten entrance on an assessment scale for English. She did, however, display some communicative skills. She learned some of the other children’s names fairly quickly, would physically position herself next to them in centers or group activities and find ways to interact with them using limited language, and could make simple requests and commands. She seemed self-assured and socially oriented. The data on Shoua helps to explicate how the framework presented below can provide understandings of how classrooms work to support and/or constrain language and academic development for ELLs.

Valdes, G. (2004) - Development of Academic Language in Linguistic Minority Children

Valdes, G. (2004). Between Support and Marginalisation: The Development of Academic Language in Linguistic Minority Children. International Journal Of Bilingual Education And Bilingualism, 7(2), 102-132.

Abstract: Within the last several years, researchers working with linguistic minority children have focused increasingly on the development of the types of language proficiencies that are required to perfonn successfully in academic contexts. Most practitioners and researchers agree that, in order to succeed in schools, such learners must be given the opportunity to acquire academic, rather than everyday, language. Unfortua nately, in spite of the growing interest in the kind of language that will result in school success, we currently lack a single definition Of even general agreement about what is meant by academic language. This paper examines the conflicting definitions and conceptualisations of academic language and argues that limited understandings of bilingualism and of the linguistic demands made by academic interactions will lead to the continued segregation of linguistic minority children even after they have reached a level of stable bilingualism.

Notes:
there is currently no agreed-upon definition of either academic English or academic language in general. While this has been discouraging and problematic for many researchers and practitioners within the second-language leaching profession, what is significant is that a number of related professions are engaging in the examination of what they understand to be academic language and inquiring about its role in the school success of all children.

In the case of academic English, the discussion of many significant and important issues is taking place in a context in which the response of both the community of scholarly specialists and members of the public (including spedal interest organisations, news media, parents, teachers, administrators, policy makers) are anticipated.

ideological context hegemonic voices, hegemonic voices, public sphere, scholarly sphere

Hegemonic voices argue for teaching the standard language to the underprivileged, while counter- hegemonic voices argue that insisting on the standard will only continue to maintain the position of the powerful who already speak the privileged variety of the language. p14 ['standard language ideology']

Standard English as a highly charged notion

Learners: mainstream English, ESL (TESOL [college] & ESL [K-12])

For these individuals [e.g., some members of the writing and composition profession] academic language is primarily understood to mean that language which is free of non-standard or stigmatised features.

The TESOL profession also sees academic languages as a set of intellectual practices. Primarily, however, at the college level, this profession is particularly focused on stylistic conventions that are part of that practice (within particular professions), including text organisation, presentation of iniormation, and grammar and usage. Importantly, the TESOL College profession views its students as competent both academically and linguistically in their first language and considers that the profession's role is to help them to avoid discourse accent

The ESL profession that works with K-12 students, by comparison, focuses on non-English background, immigrant students who enter American schools. Much of the activity of this profession has been directed at the teachmg of the structure of English to such youngsters as a preliminary to their learning subject-matter through English.

This group of practitioners, however, has focused almost exclusively on the development of what has been called Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency or CALP which is considered to be fundamentally different from BlCS, that is, from Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills.

COGNITIVE ACADEMIC LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY:
+ cognitively and linguistically complex language needed for success in academic settings
+ conceptual-linguistic knowledge
+ the ability to manipulate and interpret language in cognitively-demanding, context-reduced texts

Very little attention has also been given by the L2 communities to the extensive work that has been carried out on literacy as a social and cultural practice (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Delpit, 1988; Edelsky, 1991; Gee, 1990; Rose, 1989; Street, 1984; Walsh, 1991). The view that there are multiple literacies rather than a single literacy, that these literacies depend on the context of the situation, the activity itself, the interactions between participants, and the knowledge and experiences that these various participants bring to these interactions is distant from the view held by most L2 educators who still embrace a technocratic notion of literacy and emphasise the development of decontextualised skills.

In sum, positions about academic language in diverse learners that are held by the different professional communities have developed and evolved in communication with particular sets of voices that are a part of specific professional worlds. In Bakhtinian terms (Bakhtin, [1986]1990: 91) utterances within each professional world (must be regarded primarily as a response to preceding utterances of the given sphere ... Each utterance refutes, affirms, supplements, and relies on the others, presupposes them to be known and somehow takes them into account'. p25

Unfortunately, as is evident to those who work with linguistic minority students, that is, with both second language learners and speakers of nonstandard varieties of the language, the increasing residential and academic segregation in which these students find themselves offers few possibilities for their participation in communication spheres where 'academic language is used naturally and comfortably by those who, as Gee (1992: 33) has suggested, have acquired it by 'enculturation (apprenticeship) into social practices through scaffolded and supported interactions with people who have already mastered the Discourse'. p31-32

I believe that what we need to do is to imagine other possibilities. Like Guerra (1997: 258), we too must envision language minority L2 writers who develop what he called 'intercultural literacy', that is, 'the ability to consciously and effectively move back and forth among as well as in and out of the discourse communities they belong to or will belong to'. Even in middle school, we should want minority L2 writers to understand that they too have something to say. p33

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bausmith & Barry (2011) -- Revisiting PLCs

Bausmith, J.M. & Barry, C. (2011). Revisiting Professional Learning Communities to Increase College Readiness: The Importance of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Educational Researcher, 40, 175-178.

In this essay, Bausmith & Barry revisit the evidence on PLCs and argue that although PLC structures are perhaps necessary for effective schools, they are likely insufficient for meeting the new expectations of the Common Core State Standards to increase college and workforce readiness rates. They later discuss one alternative strategy that may work with PLCs around creating a video library of teaching.

Abstract:
For over a decade, professional learning communities (PLCs) have been touted as an effective way to build upon the knowledge and skills of experienced teachers, yet much of the evidence base is derived from self-reports by practitioners. Although several generations of school reform (the standards movement, No Child Left Behind, and now the Common Core State Standards) have cited improving teacher effectiveness as key to improving student achievement, little change has occurred in the nature of professional development. This article argues that professional development generally, and PLCs in particular, would benefit from the insights gleaned from the extensive literature on teacher expertise that focuses on how well teachers understand the content they teach and how well they understand how students learn that content.

Haertel, G., & Means, B. (2000). Stronger designs for research on educational uses of technology

Haertel, G., & Means, B. (2000). Stronger designs for research on educational uses of technology: Conclusions and implications. SRI International: Menlo Park, CA.

Summary:
This report is a synthesis of ten papers commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and written by research methodology experts. The papers address the need for guidelines to steer a national research agenda focused on technology use in education emphasizing the effects on student learning and achievement. The authors report two common mistakes in technology evaluations. These are using scores from standardized tests that measure content unrelated to the intervention, and using measures of opinion, implementation, or consumer satisfaction in place of measures of student learning outcomes.

The report addresses the debate among educational researchers about the value of three general strategies for research designs: multiple contextualized evaluations, multi-level longitudinal research, and random-assignment experiments. Multiple contextualized evaluations that aggregate contextual findings across multiple settings explain how context influences the impact and the implementation of the technology-related intervention. Multi-level longitudinal research explains how district, school, classroom and student level phenomena affect short-term and long-term outcomes of technology-related interventions. Random-assignment experiments trace the effects of a given treatment to the observable differences in outcomes between the treatment group and the non-treatment group. Well-designed experiments and evaluations clarify if the treatment or intervention is responsible for the outcomes observed. The report explains the applicability of the three strategies for designing research studies to address a variety of questions about technology-related interventions. It contains six “exhibits” in the appendices that showcase a variety of ways to research and/or evaluate technology-related interventions including technology-based assessment, contextualized evaluation, quasi-experimental approach, formative evaluation and correlational analysis.

The report also calls for a national repository of instruments and outcome measures appropriate to studying technology-related interventions and for consortia of researchers who share and aggregate data from individual projects to inform educational technology policy and funding decisions on a national basis. Finally, it provides recommendations for a five-part national research agenda to include:
  • Information system for educational context measures.
  • 21st Century skills, indicators, and assessments.
  • Research on naturally occurring practices of technology use in schools.
  • Research on mature innovative teaching and learning with technology programs.
  • Research on technology and effective teacher professional development.
[Summary from ISTE CARET]

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bishop (1989) - Incentives for learning

Bishop, J. (1989). Incentives for learning: Why American high school students compare so poorly to their counterparts overseas. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. [PDF]

In the US, by contrast, credentials signifying time spent in school are well rewarded but most students realize few benefits from studying hard while in school. (p.3)

Admission to selective colleges is not based on an absolute or external standard of achievement in high school subjects. It is based instead on aptitude tests which do not assess the high school curriculum and on such measures of student performance as class rank and grade point averages, which are defined relative to classmates' performances not relative to an external standard in the way scout merit badges or the English '0' level exams are.

The peer group actively discourages academic effort because studying hard shifts the grading curve up and makes it harder for classmates.

Parents do not demand higher standards because this will not improve their child's GPA, rank in class or SAT score and it would put at risk what is really important--the diploma.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beijaard 2004 - Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity

Beijaard, D., Meijer, P.C., and Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20. 107-128. [pdf]

Erikson: identity is not something one has, but something that develops during one’s whole life

Mead: the self is developed through transactions with the environment; the self can arise only in a social setting where there is social communication; in communicating we learn to assume the roles of others and monitor our actions accordingly.

Professional identity refers not only to the influence of the conceptions and expections of other people, including broadly accepted images in society about what a teacher should knowand do, but also to what teachers themselves find important in their professional work and lives based on both their experiences in practice and their personal backgrounds (Tickle, 2000).

Professional identity is not a stable entity; it cannot be interpreted as fixed or unitary (Coldron & Smith, 1999). It is a complex and dynamic equilibrium where professional self-image is balanced with a variety of roles teachers feel that they have to play (Volkmann & Anderson, 1998). In this context, Coldron and Smith (1999) pointed to the tension between agency (the personal dimension in teaching) and structure (the socially 'given').

Connelly and Clandinin (1999) referred to professional identity in terms of ‘stories to live by’. A story to live by, according to the authors, provides a narrative thread or story-line that educators drawon to make sense of themselves and their practice. 'Stories to live by' is a way to conceptually bring together a teacher’s personal practical knowledge, his or her professional knowledge landscape, and identity (see also Clandinin, 2003).

Features of professional identity:
1. Professional identity is an ongoing process of interpretation and re-interpretation of experiences (Kerby, 1991)
2. Professional identity implies both person and context.
3. A teacher’s professional identity consists of subidentities that more or less harmonize.
4. Agency is an important element of professional identity, meaning that teachers have to be active in the process of professional development (Coldron & Smith, 1999). In addition, it can be argued that professional identity is not something teachers have, but something they use in order to make sense of themselves as teachers. The way they explain and justify things in relation to other people and contexts expresses, as it were, their professional identity (Coldron & Smith, 1999).


A cognitive perspective underlies most studies on teachers’ professional identity. From this perspective, the research results are based on written or verbal data collected from the teachers (e.g., portfolios and interviews). Understanding these data is only possible when data is also available about the teachers’ contexts from a more sociological perspective, e.g., gained through (participant) observation and analysis of school documents and student materials.

Furthermore, a teacher’s biography is important for professional identity formation (e.g., Knowles, 1992; Sugrue, 1997). In the literature on teachers and teaching, 'biography’ seems to imply a perspective of its own, with the emphasis on life histories (Goodson, 1992; Kelchtermans, 1994). Life histories are not just 'life stories', but stories that are embedded in a socio-historical context.

The cognitive and the biographical perspectives on professional identity formation are both characterized by a narrative research approach. This cannot be said about the sociological perspective, though it is implied in the biographical perspective. In view of professional identity formation, we feel that more clarity is needed about these perspectives that can possibly be combined in research on teachers' professional identity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Naturalistic Paradigm - Moschkovich & Brenner (2000)

Moschkovich, J.N. & Brenner, M.E. (2000). Integrating A Naturalistic Paradigm Into Research on Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning. Chapter 17 in Handbook of Research Designs in Mathematics and Science Education. Mahwah, NJ: LEA

Naturalistic Paradigm Principles -

Principle 1: It Is Essential to Consider Multiple Points of View of Events
Principle 2: It Is Useful to Connect Theory Verification and Theory Generation
Principle 3: It Is Important to Study Cognitive Activity in Context

Friday, May 6, 2011

Teaching English language learners in the content areas - Janzen 2008

Janzen, J. (2008). Teaching English language learners in the content areas. Review of Educational Research , 78 (4), 1010-1038.
ABSTRACT: This review examines current research on teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) in four content area subjects: history, math, English, and science. The following topics are examined in each content area: The linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural features of academic literacy and how this literacy can be taught; general investigations of teaching; and professional development or teacher education issues. The article summarizes key findings in the literature, examining trends and discontinuities across the different content areas, and concludes with implications for teaching and suggestions for further research.
NOTES:
Social studies/history
Through linguistic analysis, Schleppegrell and her colleagues demonstrate that reading and writing in history make unique demands on students in general, and that the language of history textbooks can be very difficult for ELLs in particular. The authors recommend that social studies teachers explicitly teach their students the grammatical features of history language to develop learner proficiency in reading and writing.
Reppen (1994/1995) examined a fifth-grade social studies classroom in which students were taught multiple genres (narrative, description, persuasion, and exposition) through a combination of teacher modeling, explicit teaching about the language and structure of individual genres, and joint construction of texts. Reppen states that several types of assessment demonstrated that this approach produced positive change in terms of student content knowledge, writing proficiency, and attitudes toward social studies learning.
Zwiers (2006) emphasizes students’ functional use of academic language in history. His techniques include word walls that focus on different types of language and hand motions and chants to solidify student memory of specific vocabulary. Zwiers provides evidence that suggests his approach had positive effects: For example, in their final papers, students used academic language that they had encountered in class.

Math
A research review of the features of mathematics language (Schleppegrell, 2007) outlines a range of challenges that math can present in SFL [systemic functional linguistics] terms. These features include the use of more than one semiotic system (symbolic notation, visual displays such as graphs, written and spoken language); technical vocabulary; and grammatical features including complex noun phrases. Schleppegrell suggests that a focus on language is critical for student learning in the classroom, that both students and teachers should use math language, and that instruction should assist students to move from everyday language to the more formal register of math.
In one article focused solely on language issues, Ron (1999) observes that the language of math and the language of everyday life can overlap, but that math language is used to express concepts that are not necessary or important in everyday usage. Additionally, mathematics may require specialized meanings for words. She points out that one of the challenges for ELLs in learning mathematical language is that it can only be acquired in school and not through conversational interaction.
In a study of an effective bilingual fifth grade teacher, Khisty and Viego (1999) describe several teaching practices that promote mathematical thinking, among them the teacher’s consistent and clear use of math terminology combined with the teacher’s requirement that students use math language in the same way. This behavior is in contrast to other contexts observed by Khisty , in which teachers’ use of math language was confusing or unhelpful.
Some of the articles reviewed recommend that teachers should pay attention to classroom interaction and should give students opportunities to talk their way through problems or make verbal explanations of their reasoning. When teachers require oral language use, students can discover alternate approaches to problem solving, and teachers can become more aware of what their students know or don’t know. (Basurto, 1999; Bresser, 2003; Buchanan & Helman, 1997; Garrison, 1997; H. Lee & Jung, 2004; Secada, 1998; Tevebaugh, 1998; Torres-Velasquez & Lobo, 2004/2005).
Several of the articles reviewed recommend that teachers use students’ knowledge or interests to make connections to the math curriculum; alternatively, the authors claim that math studies are more meaningful if they are linked to other content areas (Basurto, 1999; Buchanan & Helman, 1997; Garrison, 1997; Tevebaugh, 1998; Torres-Velasquez & Lobo, 2004/2005).

Science
Fradd and Lee have trained teachers to implement instructional congruence in elementary school classrooms, and evaluations of this aspect of the project indicate that instructional congruence has a positive effect on student performance (Cuevas, Lee, Hart, & Deaktor, 2005; Fradd, Lee, Sutman, & Saxton, 2001; O. Lee, Deaktor, Hart, Cuevas, & Enders, 2005). In instructional congruence, students are prepared to succeed according to the standards of the science discipline, but for learning to take place, meaningful connections must be made to the knowledge, perspectives, and behavior students bring to the classroom.
Gibbons (2003) states that use of the checklist and discussion of it with the teachers being observed increased the teachers’ use of desired instructional strategies.
Fradd and Lee’s research on teaching in elementary science classrooms has also included a teacher education component. To assist teachers in incorporating instructional congruence in their classrooms, the researchers developed instructional units that include hands-on activities and discussion (Fradd et al., 2001). The authors incorporated teacher feedback in the design of these units, and teachers were taught to use them through a cycle of workshops, school-site meetings, and focused conversations. Several studies measured change in teacher belief and practices, two over the course of 1 year (Hart & Lee, 2003; Luykx, Cuevas, Lambert, & Lee, 2005), the other over the course of 3 years (Lee, 2004). The studies found positive changes in terms of teachers’ effectiveness at promoting literacy skills and student understanding of science content, their greater acceptance of students’ home languages and cultures, and their utilization of instructional congruence in the classroom. However, the authors also note that teachers require extensive support in changing their practices and that the change takes a great deal of time.

Conclusion
Regarding professional development -- Several researchers have suggested that teachers need extended time for professional development so that they can achieve a variety of objectives: (a) learn about the language of their discipline in depth, (b) become accustomed to integrating language and content instruction, (c) understand their attitudes toward cultural diversity and their assumptions about ELLs, and (d) successfully adapt the knowledge base they acquired in training to actual teaching.
A further challenge in the area of professional development is that content-area teachers do not necessarily have either defined obligations or opportunities to learn about working with ELLs. In school settings, mechanisms may not exist for content-area teachers to receive training, and, even when training occurs, teachers may not implement the accommodations they have learned about, as one investigation found (Brown & Bentley, 2004). Power differentials and different disciplinary epistemologies also prevent meaningful in-service cooperation between ESOL and content-area teachers (Arkoudis, 2003; Creese, 2002), to the detriment of the students being served.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Secret, sacred and cover stories - Clandinin and Connelly (1995)

Clandinin, D.J. and Connelly, M. (1995). Teachers’ professional knowledge landscapes. New York: Teachers College Press. Chapter 1. Secret, sacred and cover stories

How is the embodied, narrative, relational knowledge teachers carry shaped by their professional knowledge context?

Personal-practical knowledge: practice, intellectual acts, self-exploration; a practitioners' way of knowing their school and classroom, and as the determining influence on practice

C&C understanding of teacher knowledge is a narrative one; teachers know their lives in terms of stories.

Stories of practice tend to be "secret stories" told only to other teachers in secret places

Teachers tell "cover stories" in which they portray themselves as characters who are certain, expert people.

Sacred stories have their basis in theories that are unquestioningly thought to lead practice. They are "elusive expressions of stories that cannot be fully and directly told, because they [...] lie too deep in the consciousness of the people"

Cover stories are told by teachers outside their classroom in order to prove their competence and hide any uncertainties.

Secret stories are the stories teachers live out in the safety of their classroom. They are only told to others in safe places where teachers do not feel they have to defend themselves.

Coldron and Smith (1999) Active location in teachers’ construction of their professional identities

Coldron, J. and Smith R. (1999). Active location in teachers’ construction of their professional identities. Journal of Curriculum Studies. (31)6, 711-726. [link]

Notes:

  • Identity as a teacher is partly given and partly achieved by active location in social space.
  • Social space is an array of possible relations that one person can have to others. Some of these relations are conferred by inherited social structures and categorizations and some are chosen or created by the individual.
  • Sets of practices (traditions) convey possibilities within social space.
  • The development of a teacher’s professional identity is largely dependent on the quality and availability of these varied factors.
  • Craft, scientific, moral and artistic traditions are four traditions that are significant in educational practice.

Identity should be seen as something that we use to justify, explain and make sense of ourselves in relation to other people, and to the context in which we operate (p712)

Traditions are repositories of possible or actual practices and structures (p713)

Traditions and practices are the means by which we become ourselves (p714)

Traditions and practices have an associated community. In various formal and informal ways members act as custodians of the tradition and determine judgements of quality. They also contribute to the tradition, transmitting and reshaping it.

C&S propose that we think of biography as a mixture of social biography and personal biography

Structure is used here to denote relatively intractable social constructs, including cognitive frameworks and affective templates as well as institutional practices. p715

An individual teacher’s choice is crucially determined by the array of possibilities he or she perceives as available.

C&S consider teachers as craftspersons in so far as they plan actions aimed at achieving a pre-determined end, the success of which depends on their spontaneous responses to contextual factors and on the exercise of acquirable skills.

Teaching requires moral judgements in at least three areas. First, each teacher has to evaluate what he or she is asked to do. Second, there are customs and habits that insidiously become part of a teacher’s practice as a result of the institutional culture of which he or she is a part. Third, despite the increasing external influences, many choices are exercised in the classroom and those choices have moral dimensions.

C&S contend that teachers generate additional resources through aesthetic response to professional experience - a particular example of how people in general create personal meaning of great significance for their actions and identity. It is a process that corresponds to the way artists create new resources in relation to existing discourses.


Conclusion and implications

  • Teaching requires mature practitioners who are active participants in a rich array of educational traditions
  • Teachers need to become aware of the plurality of approaches and ways of doing things
  • Teacher educators and others interested in encouraging continuing professional development should strive to engage teachers with this range of resources

Holland et al. (1998) Identity and agency in cultural worlds

Holland, D., Lachiocotte, W., Skinner, D. and Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Notes:
+ People tell others who they are, but even more important, they tell themselves and then try to act as though they are who they say they are. These self-understandings, especially those with strong emotional resonance for the teller, are what we refer to as identities (p. 3)
+ They emphasize that identities are improvised (p4)
+ A key premise is that indentities are lived in and through activity and so must be conceptualized as they develop in social practice (p5)
+ Holland et al. conceive of persons as composites of many, often contradictory, self-understandings and identities
+ The culturalist position emphasizes that people's actions are driven by internalized cultural logic; e.g., how one speaks (saying "please" when asking for favors) as reflecting precepts learned in childhood about conducting oneself as a moral person
+ The constructivist position emphasizes the social positioning that goes on whenever people interact (i.e., it depends on maneuverings, negotiations, etc., of relations of status and entitlement)
+ Dialogic perspectives (e.g., Bakhtin) claim that individuals and groups can hold more than one perspective at the same time
+ "egocentric contractual" and "sociocentric organic" concepts of the person. "egocentric contractual" - "Western" perspective that social relationships are viewed as derivative of the autonomous and abstracted individual. "sociocentric organic" - non-Western, context dependent, concrete, and socially defined (p21)
+ social constructivists emphasize that our communications with one another not only convey messages but always make claims about who we are relative to one another and the nature of our relationships (p26)
+ Old debate: is there an essential self - a durable organization of mind/body?
+ Practice theory of the self: (1) culturally and socially constructed discourses and practices' (2) the self is treated as always embedded in (social) practice; (3) sites of the self - loci of self-production or self-process (p.28)
+ Codevelopment - the linked development of people, cultural forms, and social positions in particular historical worlds
+ Activity systems - p38

+ Holland et al. believe identify formation must be understood as the heuristic codevelopment of cultural media and forms of identity p45


Urrieta (2007): According to Holland et al. figured worlds have four characteristics:
(1) Figured worlds are cultural phenomenon to which people are recruited, or into which people enter, and that develop through the work of their participants.
(2) Figured worlds function as contexts of meaning within which social encounters have significance and people's positions matter. Activities relevant to these worlds take meaning from them and are situated in particular times and places.
(3) Figured worlds are socially organized and reproduced, which means that in them people are sorted and learn to relate to each other in different ways.
(4) Figured worlds distribute people by relating them to landscapes of action; thus activities related to the worlds are populated by familiar social types and host to individual senses of self.

Brad: Figured worlds are constellations of interpretations, resources, encouragements to action, social history, possible actions, particular realitites, etc.

Figured worlds are socially situated, and are "peopled by the figures, characters, and types who carry out its tasks and who also have styles of interacting within, distinguishable perspectives on, and orientations towards it" (p. 51).

Old debate: agency vs. structure (a.k.a. free will vs. determinism)
New: examining how people create the structures that influence people's actions, perceptions, beliefs, etc., which then reinforce or change structures, and so on, in a dialectic relationship (dynamic interaction)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kaput - three strands of algebra

BOOK REVIEW: Mathematics Educators Respond to Kaput’s "Algebra Problem": A Review of Algebra in the Early Grades
by Dan Chazan and Ann R. Edwards
JRME March 2010, Volume 41, Issue 2, Pages 203 - 204 [pdf]

In chapter 1, Kaput offers an overarching characterization of algebra and algebraic reasoning that unifies the diverse perspectives represented in this volume. His analysis presents two core aspects of algebra— algebra as the systematic symbolizing of generalizations and algebra as syntactic action in conventional symbol systems.

These core aspects are embodied in three strands of algebra:

  1. algebra as the study of structures and systems abstracted/generalized from arithmetic and quantitative reasoning;
  2. algebra as the study of functions (the generalization of variability); and
  3. algebra as a modeling tool.

Picking up on these threads, chapter 2 (Kaput, Blanton, & Moreno) and chapter 5 (E. Smith) further explicate algebra as embodied in the linked processes of generalization and symbolization—Kaput, et al. examining symbolization in the context of equation solving and Smith focusing on the role of argumentation in the establishment of generality.

Chapter 4 (J. Smith & Thompson) takes a contrasting view, arguing that the development of algebraic reasoning can effectively be based in reasoning about relationships between physical quantities.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Korthagan & Kessels (1999) - Linking theory and practice

Korthagan, F. and Kessels, J. (1999). Linking theory and practice: Changing the pedagogy of teacher education. Educational Researcher, 28(4), 4-17.

Episteme Versus Phronesis

In teacher education there is much confusion about at least two different meanings of the word "theory." Kessels and Korthagen (1996) go back to Aristotle's concepts of episteme and phronesis to explain the difference. If a teacher educator offers epistemic knowledge, he or she uses general conceptions, applicable to a wide variety of situations; this knowledge is based on research and can be characterized as "objective" theory, theory with a big T. This is the type of knowledge that plays a central role in the traditional approach and that should certainly not be left out of teacher education programs: Now and then student teachers should be helped to see the larger picture of educational knowledge.

More often, however, they need knowledge that is situation-specific and related to the context in which they meet a problem or develop a need or concern, knowledge that brings their already existing, subjective perception of personally relevant classroom situations one step further. This type of knowledge is called phronesis. We could also call it "theory with a small t."

The character of phronesis is more perceptual than conceptual: It—often unconsciously— focuses the attention of the actor in the situation on certain characteristics of the situation, characteristics important to the question of how to act in the situation.

To put it concisely, episteme aims primarily at helping us to know more about many situations, while the emphasis of phronesis is mostly on perceiving more in a particular situation and finding a helpful course of action on the basis of strengthened awareness.

This strengthened awareness of concrete characteristics in specific situations is also the fundamental difference between phronesis and procedural knowledge (knowledge about "how to ..."). The danger of an emphasis on procedural knowledge in teacher education is that student teachers learn a lot of methods and strategies for many types of situations but do not learn how to discover, in the specific situations occurring


Techne is craft knowledge (Kessels & Korthagan, 2001)

The craft knowledge in teaching, according to Grimmett and Mackinnon (1999), "consists of pedagogical content and pedagogical learner knowledge derived from considered experience in the practice setting" and "represents teachers judgment in apprehending the events of practice from their own perspectives as students of teaching and learning" (p.387). They argue that craft knowledge in teaching is gained primarily through experience and practice, rather than acquiring from books or lectures.

Therese Day: the craft knowledge of teaching is the professional knowledge gained by experience which teachers use everyday in their classrooms but which is rarely articulated in any conscious manner [link]

Wikipedia: Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme, which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective. Techne resembles episteme in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to "disinterested understanding."

As one observer has argued, techne "was not concerned with the necessity and eternal a priori truths of the cosmos, nor with the a posteriori contingencies and exigencies of ethics and politics. [...] Moreover, this was a kind of knowledge associated with people who were bound to necessity. That is, techne was chiefly operative in the domestic sphere, in farming and slavery, and not in the free realm of the Greek polis."


Kessels & Korthagan, 2001, Ch.2 of Linking practice and theory: the pedagogy of realistic teacher education By F. A. J. Korthagen, Jos Kessels [link]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shulman (1987) - Knowledge and teaching (PCK)

Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.

Categories of the Knowledge Base
If teacher knowledge were to be organized into a handbook, an encyclopedia, or some other format for arraying knowledge, what would the category headings look like? At minimum, they would include:

  • content knowledge;
  • general pedagogical knowledge, with special reference to those broad principles and strategies of classroom management and organization that appear to transcend subject matter;
  • curriculum knowledge, with particular grasp of the materials and programs that serve as "tools of the trade" for teachers;
  • pedagogical content knowledge, that special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding;
  • knowledge of learners and their characteristics;
  • knowledge of educational contexts, ranging from the workings of the group or classroom, the governance and financing of school districts, to the character of communities and cultures; and
  • knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values, and their philosophical and historical grounds.

Among those categories, pedagogical content knowledge is of special interest because it identifies the distinctive bodies of knowledge for teaching. It represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction. Pedagogical content knowledge is the category most likely to distinguish the understanding of the content specialist from that of the pedagogue. While far more can be said regarding the categories of a knowledge base for teaching, elucidation of them is not a central purpose of this paper.


Excerpt from Shulman, L. (1986). Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. Educational Researcher, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Feb., 1986), pp. 4-14

p9:
Pedagogical Content Knowledge. A second kind of content knowledge is pedagogical knowledge, which goes beyond knowledge of subject matter per se to the dimension of subject matter knowledge for teaching. I still speak of content knowledge here, but of the particular form of content knowledge that embodies the aspects of content most germane to its teachability.

Within the category of pedagogical content knowledge I include, for the most regularly taught topics in one's subject area, the most useful forms of representation of those ideas, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations- in a word, the ways of representing and formulating the subject that make it comprehensible to others. Since there are no single most powerful forms of representation, the teacher must have at hand a veritablea rmamentariumo f alternative forms of representation, some of which derive from research whereas others originate in the wisdom of practice.

Pedagogical content knowledge also includes an understanding of what makes the learning of specific topics easy or difficult: the conceptions and preconceptions that students of different ages and backgrounds bring with them to the learning of those most frequently taught topics and lessons.

Leinhardt & Greeno (1986) - The Cognitive Skill of Teaching

Leinhardt, G. and Greeno, J. (1986). The cognitive skill of teaching. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 75-95.

L&G characterize teaching as a complex cognitive skill amenable to analysis in a manner similar to other skills described by cognitive psychology. According to L&G, teaching skill rests on two fundamental knowledge systems: lesson structure and subject matter.

L&G propose that a skilled teacher has a complex knowledge structure composed of interrelated sets of organized actions. L&G refer to these organized actions as schemata. They are applied flexibly and with little cognitive effort in circumstances that arise in the classroom. The main feature of the skilled teacher's knowledge structure is a set of schemata for teaching activities. These schemata include structures at differing levels of generality, with some schemata for quite global activities such as checking homework and some for smaller units of activity such as distributing paper to the class.

A characteristic of skilled performance is that many component actions are performed with little effort because they have become automatic through practice. L&G conclude that skilled teachers have a large repertoire of activities that they perform fluently. L&G refer to these activities as routines (Leinhardt, Weidman, & Hammond, in press). For routines to be effective, the students as well as the teacher must have developed an organization of actions or schemata for the actions that are performed. Routines play an important role in skilled performances because they allow relatively lowlevel activities to be carried out efficiently, without diverting significant mental resources from the more general and substantive activities and goals of teaching. Thus, routines reduce cognitive load and expand the teacher's facility to deal with unpredictable elements of a task.

Skilled teaching requires decisions about whether to proceed with the next component of a lesson, based on students' readiness for new material and the likelihood that students will succeed in solving instructional problems, or involving selection of students to ask questions or give special help.

The article describes a homework check activity of an expert math teacher and a novice one.

Expert teachers constructed their mathematics lessons around a core of activities. The expert teachers had, with the class, a large repertoire of routines, usually with several forms of each one. The expert's lesson can be characterized as an action agenda consisting of a list of action segments.

Wells (2002) - Spiral of Knowing

Wells, G. (2002). Learning and teaching for understanding: the key role of collaborative knowledge building. In Social Constructivist Teaching, Volume 9, pages 1–41. Elsevier Science Ltd. PDF

In this chapter, Wells explored the role of language – and of meaning-making practices more generally – in promoting students’ learning in all areas of the curriculum. Wells gives some attention to reading, broadly conceived, since acquiring information from books, maps, diagrams, and texts of all kinds, plays an increasingly important role in education as students increase in age (Kress, 1997; Lemke, 2002). Wells also devotes some attention to writing – in non-narrative as well as narrative genres – as, with Langer and Applebee (1987) Wells believes that it is in the writer’s dialogue with his or her emerging text that an individual’s understanding of an issue or topic is most effectively developed and refined.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Brophy & Good (1974) - Teacher-student relationships - Expectation effects

Brophy, J., & Good, T. (1974). Teacher-student relationships: Causes and consequences. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Ch. 10 Classroom research: Some suggestions for the future

Expectation effects
  • The book documents specific ways in which teachers have been found to communicate low expectations of student, and what the effects are
  • Teacher expectations can influence students' achievement and affect (attitudes) toward school, learning, and subject matter.
  • Teachers often rank their students in order of achievement after only a few days of class, and these rankings are stable over time (p302)
  • Proactive teachers appear to be undeterred by their expectations for low achieving students, so they spend more time interacting with lows than highs
  • Reactive teachers tend to "let nature takes it's course" and tend to allow high students to dominate classroom life because of their ability and initiative
  • A third type of teacher overreacts to student differences by overtly favoring high students, which then tends to magnify the difference with lows
  • Global expectations of an entire class have been related to student gain. Teachers who overestimate the ability of students get better results than teachers who underestimate.
  • Some teachers seem to pick certain students in order to cue their teaching tactics, especially when to move on to a new topic. These students then determine the tempo and pacing of instruction.
Matching Students and Teachers
  • Teachers have often been found to state strong preferences for certain types of learners (e.g., over- or underachievers, passive or aggressive, achievement oriented, similar backgrounds, etc.)
  • Students who receive more personalized and positive attention from teachers seem to do better
Peer expectations can also affect student performance

1) How do teachers’s expectations of students change over time and experience?
2) Do the expectations of teachers and ways in which they communicate these expectation vary with experience, local context and other factors?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rowan 2002 - Alternative views of the task of teaching: task variety & uncertainty

Rowan, B. (2002). Teachers’ work and instructional management, part I: Alternative views of the task of teaching. In W.K. Hoy and C.G. Miskel (eds.), Theory and Research in Educational Administration, Volume 1, pp.129-149. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, 2002.

Task variety refers to the range of instructional activities that teachers engage in as they teach in classrooms. Task uncertainty refers to the extent to which teachers have access to a systematic body of knowledge to guide this work.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago

Bryk, A.S., Sebring, P.B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu S., & Easton, J.Q. (2010). Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press

[Excerpt from a book review written by Nathan Meyer in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 15: 329–331, 2010]

Bryk et al. (2010) examined a total of 390 neighborhood elementary schools in Chicago for gains in math, reading, and attendance in grades 2–8. The authors used seven years of data from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as their platform in identifying student improvement. Bryk and colleagues identified schools with similar demographics that remained academically stagnant in the lower quartile against schools that moved in the top quartile of performance. The authors found five intertwining essential supports for all schools:
  1. school leadership
  2. parent-community ties
  3. professional capacity
  4. student-centered learning climate
  5. instructional guidance
A school having strong support on any of the five supports was four to five times more likely to demonstrate substantial improvement in reading and math than those in the bottom quartile of the same indicator (p. 84). The authors use the metaphor that missing an essential support is comparable to baking a cake: "if one of the ingredients is absent, it is just not a cake’’ (p. 66). Bryk and colleagues found that if any one of the five essential supports were lacking, schools did not improve.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Five Models of Professional Development

Sparks, D. & Loucks-Horsley, S. (1989).  Five Models of Staff Development, Journal of Staff Development, Fall 1989 (Vol. 10, No. 4) [link]

Sparks and Loucks-Horsley (1989) suggest five models that are useful for accomplishing the goals of staff development:

  • Individually Guided Development: The teacher designs his or her learning activities. An assumption of this model is that individuals are motivated by being able to select their own learning goals and means for accomplishing those goals. A belief that underlies this model is that self-directed development empowers teachers to address their own problems and by so doing, creates a sense of professionalism.
  • Observation and Assessment: Instructional practices are improved if a colleague or other person observes a teacher's classroom and provides feedback. Having someone else in the classroom to view instruction and provide feedback or reflection also is a powerful way to impact classroom behavior. The person observing acts as another set of "eyes and ears" for the teacher. Observers also learn as they view their colleagues in action.
  • Involvement in a Development or Improvement Process: Systemic school-improvement processes typically involve assessing current practices and determining a problem whose solution will improve student outcomes. The solution might include developing curricula, designing programs, or changing classroom practice. New skills or knowledge may be required and can be attained through reading, discussion, observation, training, and experimentation. Consequently, involvement in the improvement process can result in many new skills, attitudes, and behaviors.
  • Training: A training design includes an expert presenter who selects the objectives, learning activities, and outcomes. Usually the outcomes involve awareness, knowledge, or skill development, but changes in attitude, transfer of training, and "executive control" need to be addressed as well. The improvement of teachers' thinking should be a critical outcome of any training program. The most effective training programs include exploration of theory, demonstrations of practice, supervised trial of new skills with feedback on performance, and coaching within the workplace.
  • Inquiry: Teachers formulate questions about their own practice and pursue answers to those questions. Inquiry involves the identification of a problem, data collection (from the research literature and classroom data), data analysis, and changes in practice followed by the collection of additional data. The inquiry can be done individually or in small groups. This model is built on the belief that the mark of a professional teacher is the ability to take "reflective action."
[Summary from NCREL

Teaching and Teaming More Responsively

Strahan, D. & Hedt, M. (2009). Teaching and Teaming More Responsively: Case Studies in Professional Growth at the Middle Level. Research in Middle Level Education (RMLE) Online, 32 (8), 1-14 [pdf]

Professional Development as a Spiral of Growth

1. Teachers begin to discuss ways to improve instruction and consider possibilities for increasing student engagement and achievement.
2. Conversations that examine professional resources and analyze student work promote trust and lead to more explicit understanding of student thinking. With the support of colleagues, teachers begin to question their beliefs about learning, set goals more explicitly, and venture outside their "comfort zones" to try new instructional practices.
3. Teachers understand more about the types of difficulties students face with subject matter, how to tap into students' existing knowledge to make learning connections, and how to assess students’ progress.
4. More responsive instructional practices and assessments nurture classroom learning communities and encourage deeper comprehension of subject matter.
5. Teachers and students collaborate even more productively, strengthening learning communities and enhancing accomplishment.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rowan & Miskel (1999) - Institutional theory and the study of educational organizations

Rowan, B. , & Miskel, C. G. (1999). Institutional theory and the study of educational organizations. In J. Murphy & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Handbook of research in Educational Administration. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 359-382 Notes:

"Other researchers have called attention to the different incentives for academic performance that exist in various countries. Bishop (1987; 1989), for example, notes the lack of relevance that grades and transcripts have for job placement and enrollment in post-secondary education in the United States, while Rosenbaum and Kiraya (1989) describe the tight institutional linkages between Japanese business firms and schools. In both analyses, it is argued that U.S. schools could secure greater student engagement and higher academic performance by tightening inter-institutional linkages between schools, businesses, and post-secondary institutions. Such linkages would clarify the relationship between student performance in school and future success, and could encourage more explicit monitoring of school achievement by businesses and postsecondary institutions."

"In fact, there is some evidence to support this view. Using data from the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS), Bishop (1997) reports that, after controlling for a variety of relevant variables, average student achievement on the SIMS mathematics tests is higher in countries where curriculum-based examinations determine access to further education than in countries that lack such tests."(p.378)

[JC notes: Bishop (1997) used data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 1994-5 & International Assessment of Educational Progress (IAEP) 1991 studies]


References

Bishop, J. (1987). Information externalities and the social payoff to academic achievement. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Center for Advanced Human Resource: Studies.

Bishop. J. (1989). Incentives for learning: Why American high school students compare so poorly to their counterparts overseas. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.

Bishop, J. (1997). The effect of national standards and curriculum-based exams on student achievement. American Economic Association, Papers and Proceedings, (May), pp. 260-264.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lisa Delpit (1988): culture of power

Delpit, L.D. (1988). The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children, Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 280-298

Summary by Barton & Yang (2000)

The "culture of power" represents a set of values, beliefs, ways of acting and being that for sociopolitical reasons, unfairly and unevenly elevate groups of people - mostly white, upper and middle class, male and heterosexual - to positions where they have more control over money, people, and societal values than their non-culture-of-power peers . The separation of people through these arbitrary marker results in a tiered society where set rules and ideological standpoints result in barriers for those not part of the culture of power. These barriers are a product of human invention, yet because they are legitimized by a caste-oriented society are often accepted as normal.

The "culture of power" and its effects are part of nearly every institution in the United States, including the institution of schooling. Delpit describes the "culture of power" in schools as having five aspects:

  1. Issues of power are enacted in classrooms,
  2. There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a "culture of power,"
  3. The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power,
  4. For those who are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier,
  5. Those with power are frequently least aware of, or least willing to acknowledge, its existence, and those with less power are often most aware of its existence.
Delpit (1988) argues that without making the rules for the culture of power explicit, those who are not familiar with the culture of power will lack opportunities for upward mobility, be perceived as deficient, inferior, or disadvantaged, and be viewed as the cause of society's problems.

Barton, A.C. & Yang, K. (2000). The Culture of Power and Science Education: Learning from Miguel. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(8), 871-889

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spillane (1999): The mediating role of teachers’ zones of enactment

Spillane, J. P. (1999). External reform initiatives and teachers’ efforts to reconstruct their practice: The mediating role of teachers’ zones of enactment. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(2), 143–175.

[Summary by David Strahan & Melissa Hedt (2009) from Teaching and Teaming More Responsively: Case Studies in Professional Growth at the Middle Level]

Spillane conducted systematic observations with 25 elementary and middle grades math teachers who had participated in districtwide reform initiatives and reported high levels of implementation on surveys. Over time, only four of these teachers demonstrated teaching practices consistent with the reform. In contrast to their colleagues who tended to work individually, these four had created functional “enactment zones” which Spillane defined as “the spaces where the world of policy meet the world of practice.”  Enactment zones featured ongoing deliberations with colleagues and facilitators, reading and discussing documents related to the reforms, and watching and discussing videotapes.

Spillane's account suggests three important characteristics of the enactment zones of those teachers who had changed the core of their practice. First, their enactment zones extended beyond their individual classrooms to include fellow teachers and local and external `experts’ on the reforms. Second, their enactment zones involved both deliberations on the reform ideas and teachers’ efforts to put these ideas into practice. Third, their enactment zones included a variety of material resources that were used to support learning about the enactment of these reform ideas.

Whether teachers who do not have the requisite individual capacity enact reforms in ways that revise the core of their practice will depend on the extent to which their enactment zones are
  • social rather than individualistic;
  • involve rich deliberations about the substance of the reforms and the practicing of these reform ideas with other teachers and reform experts;
  • include material resources or artifacts that support deliberations about instruction and its improvement.
If this conjecture turns out to be roughly right, it suggests that an exclusive focus on creating opportunities and incentives that target the individual teacher may be misguided. Further, viewing the policy challenge in terms of teachers’ zones of enactment suggests some cause for optimism, at least more optimism than if we conclude that a prerequisite for the successful implementation of recent instructional reforms is a population of teachers who have deep subject matter and pedagogical knowledge.

Elmore (1996): Getting to scale with good educational practice

Elmore, R. F. (1996). Getting to scale with good educational practice. Harvard Educational Review, 66 (1), 1-26.

Abstract: How can good educational practice move beyond pockets of excellence to reach a much greater proportion of students and educators? While many children and young adults in school districts and communities around the country have long benefited from the tremendous accomplishments of successful teachers, school, and programs, replicating this success on a larger scale has proven to be a difficult and vexing issue. In this article, Richard Elmore addresses this problem by analyzing the role of school organization and incentive structures in thwarting large-scale adoption of innovative practices close to the "core" of educational practice. Elmore then reviews evidence from two attempts at large-scale school reform in the past — the progressive movement and the National Science Foundation curriculum reform projects - to evaluate his claims that ambitious large-scale school reform efforts, under current conditions, will be ineffective and transient. He concludes with four detailed recommendations for addressing the issue of scale in improving practice in education.

Recommendations

1. Develop strong external normative structures for practice (p.18)

2. Develop organizational structures that intensify and focus, rather than dissipate and scatter, intrinsic motivation to engage in challenging practice. (p.19)

3. Create intentional processes for reproduction of successes (p.20)

4. Create structures that promote learning of new practices and incentive systems that support them. (p24)

"Evaluations of the NSF-sponsored curriculum development projects generally conclude that their effects were broad but shallow. Hundreds of thousands of teachers and curriculum directors were trained in summer institutes. Tens of thousands of curriculum units were disseminated. Millions of students were exposed to at least some product or by-product of the various projects. In a few schools and school systems, teachers and administrators made concerted efforts to transform curriculum and teaching in accord with the new ideas, but in most instances the results looked like what Cuban (1984) found in his study of progressive teaching practices: A weak, diluted, hybrid form emerged in some settings in which new curricula were shoe-horned into old practices, and, in most secondary classrooms, the curricula had no impact on teaching and learning at all. While the curriculum development projects produced valuable materials that are still a resource to many teachers and shaped peoples’ conceptions of the possibilities of secondary science curriculum, their tangible impact on the core of U.S. schooling has been negligible (Elmore, 1993; Stake & Easely, 1978)." (p13)

McCallister (2001): From ideal to real: Unlocking the doors of school reform.

McCallister, C. (2001). From ideal to real: Unlocking the doors of school reform. In Frances O’Connell Rust & Helen Freidus (Eds.), Guiding School Change: The Role and Work of Change Agents (pp. 37-56). New York: Teachers College Press.

McCallister is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at NYU. Around 1996, she received a 5-year foundation grant to work as a staff developer at a NYC public school for an innovative and student centered literacy and language program. Initially, teachers were excited by the program and expressed committment. But only a few teachers actually stuck to the program. A few experienced teachers learned to become "experts" on advanced methods of literacy instruction and became "exemplars." But other teachers at the school were not able to tap into their expertise.

Issues:

  • uneven commitment of teachers
  • no incentive structure to support the expectation that every teacher use the program
  • school culture was one where teachers had a lot of personal autonomy - administration didn't want to "force" teachers to implement the program; tension between accountability and autonomy
  • principal did not fully support the program during implementation; replaced by an interim principal who was liked by parents by disliked by the superintendent; there was conflict between parents & the superintendent.
  • school had many inexperienced teachers who were struggling with other issues like classroom management
  • lack of district support; they gave this school 75% less money for books for the reading program because they were not using the approved literacy program's basal reader
  • instability caused by faculty turnover

"In most schools and classrooms, core practices don't change on a large scale because reform efforts don't sufficiently account for the complexity of how institutions are organized, and what incentive structures govern practice (Darling-Hammond, 1997; Elmore, 1996)." (p55)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Banchi and Bell (2008) - Four levels of inquiry-based science education

Banchi, H. & Bell, R. (2008). The Many Levels of Inquiry. Science and Children, 46(2), 26-29,

Heather Banchi and Randy Bell (2008) suggest that there are four levels of inquiry-based learning in science education: confirmation inquiry, structured inquiry, guided inquiry and open inquiry. With confirmation inquiry, students are provided with the question and procedure (method), and the results are known in advance. Confirmation inquiry is useful when a teacher’s goal is to reinforce a previously introduced idea; to introduce students to the experience of conducting investigations; or to have students practice a specific inquiry skill, such as collecting and recording data.

In structured inquiry, the question and procedure are still provided by the teacher; however, students generate an explanation supported by the evidence they have collected.

In guided inquiry, the teacher provides students with only the research question, and students design the procedure (method) to test their question and the resulting explanations. Because this kind of inquiry is more involved than structured inquiry, it is most successful when students have had numerous opportunities to learn and practice different ways to plan experiments and record data.

At the fourth and highest level of inquiry, open inquiry, students have the purest opportunities to act like scientists, deriving questions, designing and carrying out investigations, and communicating their results. This level requires the most scientific reasoning and greatest cognitive demand from students.


Kuhn's definition of inquiry: efforts to coordinate hypothesis, observation and evidence through the study of controlled, cause and effect relationships (Kuhn, 2005). This definition highlights three key inquiry practices: 1) Coordinating hypothesis, observation and evidence; 2) Controlling variables; and 3) Studying cause and effect relationships.

Kuhn, D. (2005). Education for thinking. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better? (2007)

Williams, T., Hakuta, K., Haertel, E., et al. (2007). Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better? A follow-up analysis, based on a large-scale survey of California elementary schools serving low-income and EL students. Mountain View, CA: EdSource.

This new extended analysis was based upon extensive survey data from 4,700 K-5 classroom teachers (80% or more at each school) and all principals in 237 California elementary schools from 137 different school districts across the state [in 2005]. These schools were initially randomly selected from 550 schools in California’s 25-35% School Characteristics Index band. All schools from this band have high levels of student poverty and low parent education levels; for this analysis we further narrowed our original sample to eliminate any school that didn’t have enough English Learner students to have an EL Academic Performance Index score.

The sample included low, middle, and high performing schools, which enabled an examination of the school practices that differentiate low from high performing schools.

School practice domains examined:
  1. Prioritizing Student Achievement (Using Measurable and Monitored Objectives)
  2. Implementing a Coherent, Standards-based Curriculum and Instructional Program
  3. Using Assessment Data to Improve Student Achievement and Instruction
  4. Ensuring Availability of Instructional Resources
  5. Enforcing High Expectations for Student Behavior
  6. Encouraging Teacher Collaboration and Providing Professional Development
  7. Involving and Supporting Parents
Four broad effective schools practices were found in their analysis to have the most significant positive correlation with higher EL–API scores for elementary schools with high proportions of low income and Spanish speaking EL students:
  1. Using Assessment Data to Improve Student Achievement and Instruction.
  2. Ensuring Availability of Instructional Resources.
  3. Implementing a Coherent, Standards-based Curriculum and Instructional Program.
  4. Prioritizing Student Achievement (Using Measurable and Monitored Objectives).
Joe's Questions:
  1. Why do some schools and districts use these practices more than others?
  2. Do these practices have a causal relationship to higher EL-API scores? If so, what are the mechanism? Why do they work?
  3. What conditions and contexts support or inhibit the use of these practices?
  4. Are there any systematic reasons or conditions that explain the patterns of use of these practices? 
Comments:
+ the sample of schools they chose was fairly narrow - they only look at schools in the 25th to 35th percentile band of California’s School Characteristics Index (SCI) which basically means that most of the children in these school are from low-income households. The results of study might be significantly different with schools that serve  ELs with higher-SES or even lower-SES so there is some doubt and concerns about how generalizable the results are of the study to other schools who serve ELs.

+ There is this interesting comment in the technical appendicies: "The outcomes [the 2005 EL Base API] expressed as percentages underwent two transformations in order to avoid the violations of linear regression assumptions that otherwise ensue when using a proportion as the dependent variable." The conclusions of the researchers are based on looking at which schools practices have the most significant positive correlations with higher EL–API scores for elementary schools. There isn't enough information in the technical appendicies to determine if the two transformations they performed were appropriate to determine the correlations.

EdSource Web Page for Similar English Learner Students, Different Results

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Different Tests, Different Answers - Papay (2011) - VAM

Papay, J. P. (2011). Different Tests, Different Answers. American Educational Research Journal, 48(1):163-193.

Conclusions and Implications
Much more variation in teacher value-added estimates arises from the choice of outcome than the model specification.

Instead, Papay's results suggest that test timing and inconsistency, such as measurement error, play a much greater role. In particular, the finding that the timing of the test alone may produce substantial variation in teacher productivity estimates across outcome measures raises important questions for teacher accountability policies.

The analyses presented in this research suggest that the correlations between teacher value-added estimates derived from three separate reading tests—the state test, SRI, and SAT—range from 0.15 to 0.58 across a wide range of model specifications.

Although these correlations are moderately high, these assessments produce substantially different answers about individual teacher performance and do not rank individual teachers consistently. Even using the same test but varying the timing of the baseline and outcome measure introduces a great deal of instability to teacher rankings.

Therefore, if a school district were to reward teachers for their performance, it would identify a quite different set of teachers as the best performers depending simply on the specific reading assessment used.

Papay's results suggest that test timing also contributes substantially to differences in teacher effectiveness estimates across outcome measures. This is an important finding that merits further study.

If policymakers intend to continue using value-added measures to make high-stakes decisions about teacher performance, more attention should be paid to the tests themselves. Currently, all value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness use tests designed to measure student, not teacher, performance. The ideal properties of tests designed to identify a district’s best teachers may well differ from those designed to assess student proficiency.

Furthermore, the timing of tests must be considered more carefully. For example, the practice of giving high-stakes tests in early spring may not matter much for inferences about student performance in the district—having an assessment of student skills in February may be just as useful as one in May. However, decisions about timing have substantial implications for teacher value-added estimation.

Given the amount of inaccuracy in any single assessment of teacher performance—whether based on test scores or observations—combining multiple sources of information could provide schools and teachers with a better sense of their performance on a wider range of domains.

While multiple measures may provide a more robust assessment of teacher performance and may mitigate the effects of measurement error from using any single test, policymakers and district officials must take care in deciding how to combine measures. Douglas (2007) found that using multiple assessments increases evaluation reliability when the measures are highly related, but this result is not consistent with less correlated measures.

Importantly, additional research is needed into the different implications of high- and low-stakes tests for estimating teacher effects. Teachers who appear to perform well using a high-stakes examination but not well with a low-stakes test may be effectively teaching state standards or may be engaged in inappropriate coaching.

Notes:
All value-added models rely on the assumption that teacher effectiveness can be estimated reliably and validly through student achievement tests.

In practice, the reliability of student achievement growth is lower than that of the individual tests themselves. (jc: e.g., 5th grade CST test is different from the 4th grade one, so measuring the gain score can be tricky)

Additional variation in teacher estimates arises from the nature of testing. Students take tests on different days and at different times of the year. Because students, particularly those in urban schools, have relatively high absenteeism and mobility, the students present to take each test may vary substantially. Thus, teacher value-added estimates may vary across outcomes in part because different samples of students take each test.

As seen in Table 5 (on p. 180), approximately half of the teachers who would earn a $7,000 bonus using the state test would lose money if the district used the SRI instead.

The average teacher in the district would see his or her pay changed by $2,178 simply by switching outcome measures. Interestingly, the instability in teacher estimates across outcome measures is much greater for teachers in the middle two quartiles. (p181)

Papay found that differences in test content and scaling do not appear to explain the variation in teacher effects across outcomes in this district. The different samples of students who take each of the tests contribute somewhat, but they do not account for most of the differences. Test timing appears to play a greater role in producing these differences. Nonetheless, it does not explain all of the variation, suggesting that measurement error also contributes to the instability in teacher rankings. (p183)

Papay made comparisons that suggest that summer learning loss (or gain) may produce important differences in teacher effects. Here, the fall-to-fall estimates attribute one summer’s learning loss to the teacher, while the spring-to-spring estimates attribute a different summer’s loss. Thus, the fact that the fall-to-fall and spring-to-spring estimates produce substantially different answers likely reflects, in part, the inclusion of a different summer in each estimate. (p187)