Magazine article Momentum

Teacher Impact on Student Proficiency and Growth

Magazine article Momentum

Teacher Impact on Student Proficiency and Growth

Article excerpt

Catholic educators are called now more than ever to be able to demonstrate that students are proficient, and achieve more than a year's growth during a school year, because they attend Catholic schools

Catholic schools are committed to providing strong academic environments, which enable students to grow to their full potential. We must demonstrate that we are constantly making this difference. Through more than 20 years of research, William Sanders found that classroom teachers are the most important factor in achieving gains in student achievement. Reports by education researchers John Kain, Eric Hanushek, William Sanders and others have demonstrated that good instruction is 15 to 20 times more powerful than family background and income, race, gender and other explanatory variables. To be successful, Catholic educators are called now more than ever to be able to demonstrate that our students are proficient and achieve more than a year's growth during a school year.

Through a school improvement grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Archdiocese of Indianapolis used the SAS-EVAAS (William Sanders) value-added analysis for the last four years. The analysis determined whether the school and classroom teacher achieved a year's academic growth with the students they serve. This article will explain the value-added model utilized to report teacher impact and discuss the findings on student achievement. In order to do this, it is important to understand how both proficiency and growth influence student achievement.

Possible School Outcomes

Theodore Hershberg, writing about "Value-Added Assessment and System Reform" in an article in the Phi Delta Kappan (2005), describes the possible school and teacher outcomes on student achievement. This effect is a balance between two factors-proficiency and growth. (Chart 1) How the teacher balances the two in the classroom can determine whether the students reach their full potential. Proficiency is the ability of students to meet an expected level of academic performance based upon standards. Growth is the gain in student achievement from one year to the next.

Students in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis take the Indiana Statewide Test of Educational Progress (ISTEP) in grades 3 through 10. The ISTEP was developed by the Indiana Department of Education to report student progress in meeting the Indiana academic standards. It is the primary measure of student growth and progress in the state. Because all of the archdiocesan schools are accredited by the Indiana Department of Education, the archdiocese has been able to report that our students are proficient in meeting the Indiana state standards. But this tells little about the impact that the teacher has on student achievement from one year to the next. In order to do this, the archdiocese needs to measure and report annual growth. Value-added is our model for this purpose.

Why Value-Added?

It is vital to understand why a value-added analysis is informative. The first step is to be able to look at student progress over time. Chart 2 shows the average number of students passing both the English/language arts and mathematics ISTEP assessments at grades 3 through 10 for school year 2006-07. The three groups compared are archdiocese, nonpublic schools and state average.

The chart displays a trajectory using the average number of students passing the English/language arts and mathematics sections for the archdiocese (13,186 students), nonpublic schools (30,526 students), and public schools (604,694 students). The present level of proficiency on the ISTEP in Indiana is a 65 percent passing rate. This chart raises concern about the lack of growth at the upper grades, yet this is not a value-added comparison because there is no determination about expected level of growth from one year to the next. We could be seeing from the chart the difference in student ability versus the impact that the school or teacher has had on student achievement. …

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