CMS to participate in national study of teaching 
 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has been chosen to participate in a two-year research project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to measure effective teaching, district and foundation officials said Sept. 15.

The project will be led by top education researchers working with several school districts across the country, including CMS. It will seek to isolate and quantify the characteristics of effective teaching, using research involving 3,700 teachers in five or six districts. CMS will receive $1.4 million from the Gates Foundation to fund its part of the project.

“We are very pleased to participate in this research project, which has the potential to dramatically improve public education over the long term,” said Dr. Peter C. Gorman, superintendent of CMS. “We know that the most important school factor in student learning is the classroom teacher. This research will help us to identify what makes a teacher great – and that will help us find and keep great teachers.”

The project will collect and analyze four kinds of data in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. Researchers will use classroom observation, student feedback, supplemental student assessments and how well teachers recognize and diagnose student misperception.

The first year of the study will focus on teacher recruitment and data collection. The second year will concentrate on validation of the most promising measures of effective teaching.

Teacher participation is voluntary, and teachers who participate will receive a $1,500 stipend. The study will focus on five areas of public education: math and English Language Arts in grades four through eight; algebra; biology, and English Language Arts in grade 9.

“This project will go beyond using only student assessment data to measure teaching performance,” said Ann Clark, chief academic officer of CMS. “It will help us build a multifaceted measuring tool that is rigorous, fair to teachers and effective. Good teaching is complex, and this research will recognize that.”

Data from individual teachers and students will be protected for privacy reasons. Aggregate data will be made available if districts request it. The project results – measures of effective teaching – will be made public when the study is complete.

Participating researchers and methods used in the study will come from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan and Cambridge Education Associates. Schools will notify parents of students whose teachers participate in the study. Student participation is also voluntary.

The study has been designed to minimize extra work by teachers who participate. Researchers estimate that teachers will spend no more than 12 hours on the project per year, and no more than two hours of additional work will be required of students.