As we race toward another FCAT testing period, questions abound about the teacher effectiveness qualification. In other words, there is no universally accepted definition of an effective teacher. Who is more effective, a teacher at an A school with reliable family support and involvement, or is it the teacher at a Title 1 school with almost zero family support, but where students’ individual scores continue to improve?
It depends on who is answering the question. I contend, however, that FCAT scores in and of themselves do not accurately measure the effectiveness of a teacher. There are a host of other variables that should be factored into the equation.
For example, Benito Middle School is renowned for its stellar academic achievements — it is and has been an A school. Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, formerly Franklin Middle School, on the other hand, is and has been a challenged school — a C/D school. On the surface, it would be reasonable to conclude that the teachers at Benito are more effective than Franklin’s teachers. You might arrive at a different conclusion when other variables are factored in. For starters, the socio-economic status of Franklin’s students pales in comparison to that of students from Benito. The level of education of the parents of the students from both schools is also a significant variable that must be considered. That means, from the outset, the chances are greater that the students from Benito are better prepared than those from Franklin. Therefore, would you still conclude that the teachers from Benito are more effective than the teachers from Franklin and Greco?
If you are still adamant that they are, I would suggest that at least for one year we swap the teachers from Benito to Franklin and from Franklin to Benito or from any of the other challenged schools. If the scores from the challenged schools improve significantly, and the scores from the A school slides, then we could conclude definitely that it is in fact the teachers. Until then, let us not be so quick to label one set of teachers effective and the other set as being ineffective.
John Loblack, Ed.D