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Research Questions

  1. What measures did sites adopt to assess TE, and what did educators think of their sites' teacher-evaluation systems?
  2. How did sites modify their policies — including staffing (recruitment, hiring, placement, and transfer) tenure and dismissal, PD, and compensation and career ladders — to achieve the initiative's goals?
  3. How did teachers and school leaders react to these changes in policies?
  4. How much did the sites spend to implement the Intensive Partnerships initiative?
  5. What effects did the initiative have on the rate of retention of effective teachers and on LIM students' access to effective teaching?
  6. Did the Intensive Partnerships initiative improve student outcomes?

The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a multiyear effort to dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students' access to effective teaching. Participating sites adopted measures of teaching effectiveness (TE) that included both a teacher's contribution to growth in student achievement and his or her teaching practices assessed with a structured observation rubric. The TE measures were to be used to improve staffing actions, identify teaching weaknesses and overcome them through effectiveness-linked professional development (PD), and employ compensation and career ladders (CLs) as incentives to retain the most-effective teachers and have them support the growth of other teachers. The developers believed that these mechanisms would lead to more-effective teaching, greater access to effective teaching for low-income minority (LIM) students, and greatly improved academic outcomes.

Beginning in 2009–2010, three school districts — Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in Florida; Memphis City Schools (MCS) in Tennessee (which merged with Shelby County Schools, or SCS, during the initiative); and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in Pennsylvania — and four charter management organizations (CMOs) — Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools — participated in the Intensive Partnerships initiative. RAND and the American Institutes for Research conducted a six-year evaluation of the initiative, documenting the policies and practices each site enacted and their effects on student outcomes. This is the final evaluation report.

Key Findings

Sites implemented new measures of teaching effectiveness and modified personnel policies accordingly but did not achieve their goals for students

  • The sites succeeded in implementing measures of effectiveness to evaluate teachers and made use of the measures in a range of human-resource (HR) decisions.
  • Every site adopted an observation rubric that established a common understanding of effective teaching. Sites devoted considerable time and effort to train and certify classroom observers and to observe teachers on a regular basis.
  • Every site implemented a composite measure of TE that included scores from direct classroom observations of teaching and a measure of growth in student achievement.
  • Every site used the composite measure to varying degrees to make decisions about HR matters, including recruitment, hiring, and placement; tenure and dismissal; PD; and compensation and CLs.
  • Overall, however, the initiative did not achieve its goals for student achievement or graduation, particularly for LIM students.
  • With minor exceptions, by 2014–2015, student achievement, access to effective teaching, and dropout rates were not dramatically better than they were for similar sites that did not participate in the Intensive Partnerships initiative.
  • There are several possible reasons that the initiative failed to produce the desired dramatic improvement in outcomes across all years: incomplete implementation of the key policies and practices; the influence of external factors, such as state-level policy changes during the Intensive Partnerships initiative; insufficient time for effects to appear; a flawed theory of action; or a combination of these factors.

Recommendations

  • Reformers should not underestimate the resistance that could arise if changes to teacher-evaluation systems have major negative consequences for staff employment.
  • A near-exclusive focus on TE might be insufficient to dramatically improve student outcomes. Many other factors might need to be addressed, ranging from early childhood education, to students' social and emotional competencies, to the school learning environment, to family support. Dramatic improvement in outcomes, particularly for LIM students, will likely require attention to many of these factors as well.
  • In change efforts such as this, it is important to measure the extent to which each of the new policies and procedures is implemented in order to understand how the specific elements of the reform relate to outcomes.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The IP Sites

  • Chapter Three

    Measures of Effective Teaching

  • Chapter Four

    Recruitment, Hiring, Placement, and Transfer Policies

  • Chapter Five

    Tenure and Dismissal Policies

  • Chapter Six

    PD Policies

  • Chapter Seven

    Compensation Policies

  • Chapter Eight

    CL Policies

  • Chapter Nine

    Resources Invested in the IP Initiative

  • Chapter Ten

    The Effectiveness of Newly Hired Teachers

  • Chapter Eleven

    Retention of Effective Teachers

  • Chapter Twelve

    The Initiative's Effects on TE and on LIM Students' Access to Effective Teaching

  • Chapter Thirteen

    The Initiative's Impact on Student Outcomes

  • Chapter Fourteen

    Summary and Conclusions

Research conducted by

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