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Districts Use Data to Select Top Teachers

Districts Use Data to Select Top Teachers for its Schools

The Obama Administration has proposed taking funding from weak teacher training programs in order to improve "the pipeline of rookie educators."

School districts, however, "aren't waiting for that federal intervention," according to an article on Politico.com. Instead, "they're increasingly turning to consulting firms that promise to harness the power of Big Data, 'Moneyball'-style, to identify the future superstar educators from among scores of hopeful applicants."

According to the article, "the new screening tools slice and dice aspiring teachers into dozens of data points, from their SAT scores to their appreciation for art to their ability to complete geometric patterns. All that data is then fed into an algorithm that spits out a score predicting the likelihood that each candidate will become an effective teacher — or, at least, will be able to raise students’ math and reading scores."

“We’re pretty excited,” said Christine Smith, human resources director for the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware, according to Politico. “We hope this tool will help take some of the subjectivity out of our hiring process and give us a little bit more of a scientific approach.”

Educators at traditional teacher-training colleges, the article said, are "wary."

"So are some advocates who have spent their careers working on teacher quality," the article said.

According to the article, "they say there’s no magic formula to tell which teachers will succeed, especially given huge differences in classroom resources, student populations and district expectations across the country."

"It makes me a little nervous,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality in the article. “They’re all looking for easy ways to screen candidates, when we know very little about what matters.”

The article said that "research over the years has been all over the map: Some studies find that the best teachers have top-notch academic records, while others find only limited correlation. Some find that an aspiring teacher’s score on the state certification exam is predictive; others don’t. It’s not even clear whether it matters how many college math courses an aspiring math teacher has taken."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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