Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Evidence on Portfolios

My team used to laugh as I would always cringe at the mention of portfolios as a way to judge efficacy.  So when I came to New Mexico and say that their career ladder was built on portfolio submission, I was admittedly skeptical - but kept an open mind.

Apparently - the New Mexico Legislature was skeptical too.  After investing more than $274 million in rewarding teachers for moving up the ladder, they wanted to know if it was positively affecting student outcomes.  Below is a summary of the report -

Public Education Department
The Three Tiered Licensure System and The Achievement Gap
July 4, 2009 report from the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee

Highlights
  • Since 2004, New Mexico has spent $278.4 million in appropriations from the general fund to implement the three tiered licensure system
  • Difference in licensure levels in student achievement is approximately 2 points
  • When controlling for classroom type, there is no statistically significant difference in student performance for the different teaching level
Other findings
  • There are wide variation in teacher effectiveness at all levels
  • Several teachers at all levels produced negative average score changes for their students
  • Of the 2,336 teachers in the analysis, only 32 teachers increase reading score by over 35 points – enough to move a student into a different proficiency level
  • 177 teachers saw their scores actually decrease
  • An online survey of teachers received 430 responses – 10% citing concerns about the validity of the process and possible fraudulent submissions
  • The achievement gap has not changed since 2004
Key Recommendations
  • PED should develop a bonus pay for performance pilot
  • PED should convene a workgroup to evaluate the following proposals
  • Require more evidence of student performance in PDD submissions and teacher evaluations
  • Establish goals for expected growth on NMSBA in grade level and content area
  • Give districts additional guidance about how to use student performance data to target professional development for teachers showing less than desirable performance
  • Continue to study the link between teacher effectiveness and student outcomes.
Note that to reach tier 3 you must have either a master's or National Board so this more proof that these don't affect student achievement.  It is really great to see the legislature gathering hard data on programs to make decisions and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.