Cover: Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Impact on Student Outcomes

Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Impact on Student Outcomes

The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2013–2014

Published Sep 7, 2016

by Italo A. Gutierrez, Gabriel Weinberger, John Engberg


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Research Question

  1. How much better are students in the Intensive Partnership districts doing than they would have done without the Intensive Partnership reforms?

This interim report presents estimates of the overall effect that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative has had on student outcomes through the 2013–2014 school year. The initiative's aim is to encourage and support strategic human-capital reforms that are intended to improve the ways in which "teachers are recruited, evaluated, supported, retained, and rewarded." The reform's cornerstone is the development and implementation of teacher-evaluation systems based on student achievement growth; structured classroom observations by principals or trained peers; and other inputs, such as student or parent surveys. These evaluations are used to guide personnel practices in staffing, professional development, and compensation and career-ladder decisions with the goal of giving every student access to highly effective teachers. The report covers Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in Florida, Memphis City Schools (MCS) in Tennessee, and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in Pennsylvania. The initiative has not had the dramatic positive effects on student outcomes for which the foundation had hoped. Through 2013–2014, most estimated effects on student outcomes were insignificant or negative, but there was a positive effect in grades 3–8 for math in PPS. However, impact estimates were increasing in 2013–2014 (the fifth year after the intervention began) in many sites, which suggests that the reforms might be on the way to having a positive effect.

Key Findings

Limited Impact is Seen in Sites, but Impact Estimates Were Trending Upward in the Most Recent Year Studied

  • Through 2013–2014, the initiative does not appear to have had much of an effect on student achievement or graduation rates. The authors' estimates of impact are small and not statistically significant in the first three or four years after the intervention (with the exception of Memphis City Schools (MCS), which fared significantly worse in the first years). However, impact estimates were increasing in 2013–2014 in many sites.
  • In school year 2013–2014, only student performance in lower grades (3 to 8) in math in Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) demonstrably improved as a result of the grant activities. This effect is equivalent to approximately two and a half months of learning for math in PPS.
  • The positive impact estimates for school year 2013–2014 in PPS and in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), the most promising effects to date, are smaller than the normal yearly gains in achievement and in comparison to many other school-level interventions.
  • The recent upward trajectory in five out of six of the achievement impact estimates suggests that the reforms might be on the way to having a positive effect after a few transition years with little or negative impact.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

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