Testing New Ways to Recognize What Makes a Good Teacher

    Testing New Ways to Recognize What Makes a Good Teacher
    Photo: Getty Images

    This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

    In recent years, Bill Gates has given financial support to improve American education.

    Late last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Measures of Effective Teaching project. The project tests new ways to recognize what makes a good teacher.

    Its goal is to help educators and policymakers identify and support good teaching.

    The study is being carried out in public school systems in seven American cities. Thousands of teachers volunteered to take part. They agreed to have their classes recorded on video, but only for observation by expert researchers.

    Last spring, the project collected digital videos of thirteen thousand lessons in the classrooms taught by the teachers. They were in grades four through nine.

    Researchers also collected information from students. They asked students to report their opinions of each teacher's classroom. Students were also tested in mathematics, English and biology.

    Officials recently released early results of the project study. The report says teachers' past success in raising student scores on state tests is one of the strongest signs of their ability to do so again. This is known as a teacher's "value-added."

    The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests also help students understand math or show reading ability.

    The results also say students know effective teaching when they experience it. The students gave comments on whether or not their teachers cared about them. They also gave opinions on how much teachers controlled or managed student behavior in the classroom.

    The report found that classrooms where students reported positive experiences were more likely to show greater learning gains.

    Another finding shows that combining different sources of information helps administrators provide better comments and suggestions to teachers. In many cases, administrators had been basing their comments on student test scores only.

    The Measures of Effective Teaching project continues through twenty twelve when final results will be released. Researchers plan to test a new measure that examines what a teacher knows about how to teach a subject. Experts say these findings could also help create better training and development for teachers.

    And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Lawan Davis. Join us online at 51voa.com. You can also join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.