Sunday, June 26, 2016

Effective In Context

Science suggests genes can hugely influence academic performance — Quartz: "Some teachers have been reluctant to acknowledge the role of genes in school performance, perhaps because of an aversion to biological explanations—so-called “biological determinism“—and perhaps because of the false impression that if genes matter, teachers don’t.

Among other consequences, this has meant an overemphasis on the role of teacher skill and dedication in determining why some students thrive while others struggle.

There is direct evidence from twins that teacher differences are not responsible for much in the way of student differences in literacy. So teachers do matter in that they are the reasons why children know more at the end of the year or even the day. But our teachers are more uniformly effective than many give them credit for.

The Colorado story

It is unfortunate that in some education systems, such as in Colorado in the US, teacher employment and remuneration are tied to evaluations that give undue weight to student progress. This ignores the fact that some students struggle because of biological constraints on learning that can be overcome to an encouraging degree, but only with special and adequate resources."
Agreed that teachers on average do better than they are given credit for.

And the untold story that this article glosses over is that teachers also can't change or even much affect the parents, extended family and friends and culture which -- regardless of the nature vs nurture debate -- can absolutely overwhelm the efforts of even the most saintly teachers.