As promised, SCEE offers another blog featuring a recent report, which you can find in the Recent Reports module on the SCEE Collaboration Site. Movin' it and Improvin' It!: Using Both Education Strategies to Increase Teaching Effectiveness by Craig Jerald, from the Center for American Progress, frames central issues about evaluation reforms currently debated within the field. While most of the public debate has centered around the technical reliability of measurement practices and value added assessments of student growth, there is another question gaining attention as more states put evaluation systems in place. States are beginning to wonder how school systems should use the results of the new teacher evaluation systems and what reform strategies they should adopt in order to increase the amount of measured effectiveness in the teacher workforce over time. Analyses of state and district evaluation policies reveal that evaluation results in many states and districts are narrowly focused on teacher dismissal and remediation.
This article explores two different types of strategies for boosting teaching effectiveness in the workforce -"movin' it" and "improvin' it". "Movin' it" strategies consider teacher's effectiveness as fixed at any given point in time and as such advances policies around selective recruitment, retention, layoffs, and dismissal based on results of the new evaluations. The "movin' it" theory of action is that IF you attract and keep teachers with higher effectiveness, and if you remove teachers with lower effectiveness, THEN the resulting "churn" in the workforce raises the average level of effectiveness over time. "Improvin' it" strategies approach teachers' effectiveness as a mutable trait that can improve with time. The TOA for this approach is, IF all teachers are provided with useful feedback following classroom observations, and if the results of evaluation are used to individualize professional development for teachers, and if enough teachers improve their effectiveness, THEN the accumulated gains will boost the average effectiveness of the workforce.
The paper explores why influential "movin' it" proponents argue that investing in "improvin' it" strategies waste resources, citing research that professional development (PD) does not significantly improve teaching effectiveness and student learning. This relies on the assumption that if effective PD practices were available, school districts would not know how to implement them reliably to scale.
Jerald makes the important point that recently, respected researchers have published credible studies that demonstrate substantial improvements in teaching and learning from PD. He contends that using "movin' it" and "improvin' it" should not be an either or choice and that policymakers at all levels should move beyond what he calls the false choice at the heart of this debate. He advocates that school systems should maximize gains in teaching effectiveness by leveraging both "movin' it" and "improvin'it" policies.
The report includes recommendations for ways federal and state policymakers and local districts can improve systems of professional learning. A key recommendation is to ensure that feedback teachers receive from evaluations is as valuable as teachers have been promised. Specifically, Jerald stated, "If reformers and education leaders fail to deliver on even that very basic pledge, the current "big bang" of teaching-effectiveness reforms could very well collapse in a "big crunch." (Jerald, 2012, p. 3)
The paper explores both sides of this debate by describing the rationale for each approach and citing research evidence to support the "improvin' it" and "movin' it positions. Jerald's analysis of the issues helps the reader to understand why the "movin' it" policy camp appears to dismiss strategies that aim at improving teacher effectiveness through professional growth. He provides a review of recent studies that have yielded evidence that PD can accomplish improved student learning and explains why quality PD can get uneven results. The author presents several studies that challenge the "movin' it" proponents claim that PD cannot improve teacher effectiveness or student learning.
Importantly, this report addresses the need to attend to the implementation and scalability of quality PD models. See the SCEE webinar Implementing Your Educator Effectiveness Agenda to review the SCEE discussion about implementation and going to scale with educator effectiveness strategies. They offer recommendations for ways to align the two approaches and to ensure that "improvin' it" strategies deliver results. They offer additional strategies to improve the use of feedback from formal observations conducted as part of new teacher-evaluation systems. SCEE will focus on the topic of teacher observation October 9th SCEE webinar "The Complexity of Teaching and Leading: Observing Teacher Practice."
We suggest using this report to generate a dialogue among policy makers and key stakeholder groups about the need to establish a balanced reform agenda. Some suggested questions to facilitate the discussion include:
- Does our model include strategies for both "movin' it" and "improvin' it"? If not, what are the factors that are causing the lack of balance?
- Is this debate underway in our state? If yes, what can be done to build knowledge about the issues and facilitate a productive dialogue among proponents of both positions?
- What leverage opportunities might be used to help reformers and education leaders to consider policies that both "move it" and "improve it," so that more teachers benefit?
What are your impressions of this paper? What resonated with you? Will you use it? If
yes, how? Join the discussion by
commenting on this blog or going to the discussion thread.
 Jerald, C. (January 2012). Movin' it and improvin' it!: Using both education strategies to increase teaching effectiveness . Center for American Progress. Washington, DC. Retrieved from