Sunday, December 5, 2010

A defense of seniority?

Here is a commentary from Schools Matter that appears to be a defense of seniority.  It's funny, but the defense of seniority is often linked with a defense of experience.   As if the two were somehow the same concept.   Teachers improve with experience.   Research confirms a correlation.   This is therefore the best way to compensate teachers or to make hiring and firing decisions.  It's an akward argument to me.... like a person arguing that because IQ is correlated with better teaching, we are therefore simply going to measure IQ and compensate accordingly.   From the article:

 The Times mentions, in passing, that "seniority is largely unrelated to performance." The research on the impact of seniority that I have seen is based on the use of standardized test score improvements, otherwise known as value-added measures. Nevertheless, the results are interesting. In an interview (The New Advocate, "Teacher seniority under fire "September 12, 2010), researcher Michael Hansen said that improvement between year 3 and 25 was four percent, which he regarded as "trivial." But if valid, it means that more experienced teachers are slightly more effective. The only reason to ignore seniority as a criterion for retention in hard times is financial.

1 comment:

  1. Anyone who talks about teaching improving by four percent is dealing with data at a level that does not translate into identifiable, actionable realities at the individual or school level. You might as well ask a child if he's four percent smarter, ask a lawyer if her legal acumen is 4% better, etc. There are qualities of good teaching and learning that we can agree upon and that we can assess. There is only minute overlap between that set of information and the information yielded by state tests. When we get to the heart of the matter of what we're looking for, then we can deal with the logical conundrum you address regarding the use of seniority as an imperfect proxy.