Students Know What Makes a Good Teacher: Looking At Preliminary Results of the MET Project.

What makes a good teacher? We may not all be able to answer specific qualities, but I’m sure you can name who were the good teachers at your school, and which teachers failed. This doesn’t mean the most popular teachers by any means. We all had that science teacher who was really strict; students may not have loved him, but they recognized that he was a great teacher. On the other hand, we had the history teacher who was everyone’s best friend, but we know we didn’t learn a thing. The MET project is using student evaluation of teachers as part of their assessment of what makes a quality teacher.

Qualities like ability to manage a classroom and genuinely caring about the students, goes a long way in the effectiveness of a good teacher.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project in 2009. The MET project is meant to test new approaches to recognizing effective teaching. The goal is to create successful systems of teacher assessment including classroom observations and feedback. They hope to use this information to help teachers improve and administrators make better personnel decisions.

“Learning About Teaching: Initial Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project” was published in December 2010. They describe the “Effective Teaching Pathway” in these steps. 1. Implement multiple measures of effectiveness, 2. Collect accurate teacher evaluations, this should lead to a) more meaningful tenure, b) differentiated pay based on effectiveness, c) strategic placement of teachers, and d) Targeted PD and other teacher supports. This should lead to more effective teachers, resulting in better student outcomes.

In the Spring of 2010, 13,000 classroom lessons were video recorded. Mostly in grades 4 through 8, with some 9th grade lessons as well. They used data from state standardized tests, supplemental achievement tests as well as the given assessment surveys. At the time of the publication of the initial findings only 6% of the recorded lessons had been scored, so they didn’t have enough information to produce which teaching approaches were the most effective.

The MET project came up with 7 “Cs” on which to evaluate teachers from a student’s perspective: care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer, and consolidate. The chart above shows the questions asked and the results from the bottom 25th percentile of teacher effectiveness, and the top at the 75th percentile.

They scored the teachers on “value-added” which takes into account how much the students improved in their class, and the potential for them to succeed in the future.

The students know when a teacher can effectively control a classroom, and they can tell when their teacher cares about them and their learning. Students want to participate in a good learning environment and appreciate when the teacher values their input. Students even enjoy being challenged; otherwise they will get bored.

The MET project is a great example of how valuable student-based evaluations are so important in assessing the quality of their education. The students are the people in the classroom everyday, they have the first hand knowledge.