Race, Gender Factors in TN Teacher Classroom-Observation Scores
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
New research suggests Tennessee's system for rating a teacher's effectiveness by observing them in the classroom may not be equitable - at a time when public schools are struggling to boost teacher diversity.
Vanderbilt University researchers analyzed data from the first eight years of the classroom-observation system, and found Black and male teachers in Tennessee consistently received lower scores than white and female teachers.
Study co-author - Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt University Jason Grissom - explained that race and gender gaps remain, even when comparing similarly qualified teachers.
"Even when they had the same experience levels and education levels as their white and female colleagues," said Grissom, "and when their students achieved similar test scores and were similar on other outcomes."
While more teachers of color are being recruited than in previous decades, districts trying to diversify their staffs continue to struggle with high turnover rates, lack of mentoring and preparation, and inadequate teaching conditions, according to the Learning Policy Institute.
Grissom said the race gap appears to be driven by several factors, including the racial makeup of the school's faculty and the observers, and the types of students who tend to be assigned to Black teachers.
"But partly because they teach students who come into their classrooms with greater challenges," said Grissom, "it seems to be that's one of the drivers of why their observation scores are lower."
Grissom said he believes school districts should be aware of these factors in order to improve the fairness of the system.
"School districts, I think," said Grissom, "have an obligation to take a close look at their scoring processes and the scores that they're giving, ensuring that those scores are accurate."
Research indicates having a teacher of color correlates with improved academic performance in Black and Brown students, including higher reading and math test scores, graduation rates and college plans.
Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color Learning Policy Institute 4/1/18
The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers IZA Institute of Labor Economics 3/1/17
TEACHER PREP REVIEW Program Diversity and Admissions the National Council on Teacher Quality 2021
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