Who is Teaching Whom

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend reporting on a study finding “effective teachers can boost the test scores of students.”  Now I’m no student of pedagogy, but this tory just states the obvious.  My personal opinion is that if you don’t know the information, there is no way in the world that you will be able to teach it to someone else in an effective way.   


The three-year study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, published Tuesday Jan 8, is the first large-scale research to show, using random student assignment, that some teachers can produce test-scoregains regardless of the past performance of their students, according to foundation officials.


As a lifelong student of social sciences, I see this study as flawed as it assumes that test scores are a reasonable measurement of teacher effectiveness.  In my opinion, they are only a measure of academic knowledge retention and that only within one’s short-term memory.  The most ineffective teacher can look good if a student decides to place some effort into the process and study the material prior to the test. 


Measuring a teacher’s effectiveness can be performed via test score examination, but only as an element of a full-scale analysis.  Such elements as voluntary class participation, and student engagement in class discussion is much more effective when attempting to see whether a teacher is effective, rather than the quantitative score from an exam. 


Read more from the Wall Street Journal’s Blog: Good Teachers Linked to Test Success, and follow them on Twitter @WSJ


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