Improving teacher effectiveness: An exploration of how and why teachers improve in their practice as measured by their value-added teacher effectiveness scores
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The research supporting the powerful influence of teachers on student learning is abundant. Therefore, the most logical way to improve student learning is to improve the effectiveness of teachers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how and why teachers improve in their practice as measured by their value-added teacher effectiveness scores and what role the campus principal played in that documented growth. Additionally, the study sought to determine whether teachers’ knowledge of their effectiveness scores served as a factor in their professional growth. The researcher interviewed eight teachers with three consecutive years of improving value-added data. The teachers attributed learning to the use of humor in the classroom and building their own capacity to use multiple resources, including their own creativity, with their professional growth. With regard to professional development, the researcher found that teachers appreciated training that was both practical and included active learning. Ongoing collaboration with colleagues, both formally in professional learning communities and informally through casual dialog, was also considered important to their progress. The teachers valued trust and recognition from their principals and the fact that principals were visible in their classrooms on a regular basis. The researcher found that only one of the teachers had knowledge of her value-added teacher-effectiveness data, and this teacher used the data to inform her instruction. Significant to the findings, this particular teacher had the highest value-added scores and the largest range of growth of the participants in the study. The researcher recommends that schools and districts examine professional development plans to ensure that they are practical, include active learning and collaboration, and model the use of humor, the use of multiple resources, differentiation , self-reflection, and technology integration. In addition, principals should be intentional in providing specific praise based on data gathered during frequent classroom visits. Principals should also ensure that systems are in place for collaboration. Most importantly, districts and schools must ensure that principals and teachers know how to use value-added data to drive instructional decisions in order to obtain maximum growth in effectiveness.
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