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What is the Difference Between AP Physics B and AP Physics 1 and 2?

Beginning this year, the College Board will be replacing their AP Physics B algebra-based physics course with two separate algebra-based physics courses, titled AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2. The two calculus-based courses, AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, will remain the same.

Why the Change?

So what does this change entail, and why has this change been undertaken? A study by the National Research Council concluded that the AP Physics B course “encourages cursory treatment of very important topics in physics rather than a deeper understanding,” according to the College Board’s FAQ, and that students’ study of mechanics should include rotational dynamics and angular momentum, which are not part of the AP Physics B curriculum. The NRC recommended teaching the course over two years to emphasize inquiry-based instruction and deeper understandings. The College Board agreed.

What’s Involved?

The new AP Physics 1 course is targeted as equivalent to a one-semester college course in algebra-based physics, though the selection of topics for the course includes some irregularities compared to a standard introductory college physics course. Topics included in AP Physics 1 include kinematics; dynamics; momentum; work, energy, and power; rotation; oscillations; gravity; mechanical waves; and basic electric circuits. Most of these are topics that were previously on the AP-B exam, though the inclusion of rotation and angular momentum are new topics. Further, the emphasis on mechanics in an introductory college course is standard, but the inclusion of electric circuits is rather irregular. According to a committee member involved in the redesign of the course, the inclusion of circuits was forced into the new course to meet the needs of end-of-year state assessments for several large states, and was not originally part of the redesign plans.

The new AP Physics 2 course is intended as an equivalent to a second-semester college course, covering fluid mechanics, thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and atomic / modern physics. Most of these topics were included in the previous AP-B course, though the modern physics portion of the course includes several new sub-topics.

A New Paradigm

Considerably more dramatic than just shifts in content, however, is the overall organization of the course. The new AP–1 and AP–2 courses are organized around seven “big ideas” in physics, coupled with an extensive list of essential knowledge (EK) and learning objectives (LOs) details what students should know and be able to do. Although these EKs and LOs are numerous, they are also quite vague in terms of how “deeply” students are expected to know a topic. As an example, several learning objectives discuss an understanding of springs in various contexts, but whether that also includes combinations of springs is left significantly vague. In the thermal physics arena, heat engines are not specifically covered, but students are expected to understand energy transfer in thermodynamic systems (which could be tested in the context of a heat engine). If it sounds a bit vague, I can’t disagree. Teachers across the country are also struggling to interpret the documentation about the new exams.

Also of interest is the focus on science practices. In addition to the 7 big ideas, the College Board has also identified 7 science practices that are essential for success. These practices are broken down in detail, with course activities designed to verify students can “use mathematics appropriately” and “plan and implement data collection strategies in relation to a particular scientific question,” for example. My detailed breakdown of the course curriculum frameworks can be found on the AP1 Roadmap and AP2 Roadmap documents.

Ultimately, the goal of these changes is to provide an opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying foundational concepts in physics as well as the skills and practices necessary to treat physics as a science activity instead of a body of knowledge, better preparing students for success in further coursework as well as careers in science and engineering.

A New Exam

In late spring / early summer, the College Board released a secured practice exam to certified AP Physics teachers to better prepare for the new AP–1 and AP–2 exams. The change in style of the exam is quite significant. Questions place a strong emphasis on relational and conceptual problem solving, as well as application of the science practices, coupled with a significant decrease in “math-only” quantitative solutions. The new exam also emphasizes symbolic manipulation, analyzing situations from multiple perspectives, designing experiments, justification of answers, and scientific argumentation.

Many of these changes are directly in line with the Modeling Physics method of instruction, which emphasizes ongoing guided inquiry while maintaining consistency in approach and building upon previously-developed models throughout the course, a method strongly recommended by current Physics Education Research.

Although the changes to the courses are numerous, the general message to teachers and students is consistently clear: physics is something you do, not something you know. Success in the new AP–1 and AP–2 courses requires a multi-faceted approach to learning which includes hands-on inquiry and exploration activities, mastery of content and problem-solving principles, and the ability to reason, argue, and justify scientifically.

How To Succeed

So then how do students succeed in this brave new world? I would humbly recommend a learning plan which includes an ongoing cycle of exploration, refinement, and application. As students work through each unit/topic/model, begin with an opportunity to active explore the model, determine what is known, what is unknown, and what misconceptions might exist. Follow that up with activities that allow students to refine their knowledge through the collection and analysis of data, drawing their own conclusions to discuss and debate. Finally, these conclusions and skills need to be transferred and applied to new and unique situations, allowing students to determine where these models work, and where they fall short (setting the stage for development of the next model!)

Supplemental Resources

It sounds daunting, but there are tons of great resources available to help students succeed in these endeavors. Besides reading the textbook, a skill which is difficult to master yet extremely valuable, a review of the key material distilled down into a clean easy-to-understand format can be invaluable. I have been teaching online courses with the use of video since 2003, so please let me be clear, I absolutely do not believe in passive instruction by video. A little bit of me dies inside everytime I read about classes in which students are placed in front of a computer as the sole means of instruction. Besides being ineffective, how boring! Physics is supposed to be fun, and I have trouble imagining how students can make it through such lonely, soulless courses.

I do, however, believe that supplemental on-demand video lessons taught by strong instructors such as those at Educator.com can do wonders for cementing the foundational concepts and demonstrating application of these foundational concepts to problem solving, especially in the refinement and application stages of instruction. Undertaking learning through inquiry and modeling can be messy and confusing. Having an online instructor there to assist in cleaning things up or explaining things in a different manner or from an alternate perspective can make a world of difference.

Further, review books such as AP Physics 1 Essentials are designed to assist in these stages of learning, not as a replacement for the oh-so-valuable active learning experiences, but rather as an easily accessible means of solidifying the basic relationships and concepts. I wrote AP1 Essentials to help students understand essential physical relationships in a manner that is straightforward and easy-to-read, leaving development of in-depth problem solving and lab work for the classroom, where they are most effective. A review book can’t help a student if it’s so complex the student won’t read it. Instead, the goal for this book was to create a resource that students would actually read and enjoy, and help them along their path to a deeper conceptual understanding.

Putting It All Together

There is no “one-stop shopping” or easy path to success in AP Physics 1 or AP Physics 2, and strategies that may have worked for the previous AP Physics B course may no longer be successful. Instead, these new courses are comprehensive learning experiences combining exploration, experimentation, application, and communication skills. Only by putting in the effort and struggling through the frustrations will students find their way to mastery of the course. But they don’t have to go it alone – these courses are designed around collaboration and teamwork, and there are great supplemental resources to help out as well.

 

 

About the Author – Dan Fullerton is a physics instructor at Irondequoit High School in Rochester, NY, and an adjunct professor of microelectronic engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He was named a NY State Master Physics Teacher in 2014. Fullerton is featured in the AP Physics C and AP Physics 1 & 2 video courses on Educator.com. He is the author of AP Physics 1 Essentials and creator of the APlusPhysics.com website. Fullerton lives in Webster, NY, with his beautiful wife, two indefatigable daughters, and sleepy dog.

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California’s High School Graduation Rate Is Higher Than Ever!

Educators in California must be doing something right because this is the first time California’s high school graduation rate is above 80%… that’s 12.1% higher than last year!  The academic gap between racial groups is decreasing as more Latino and African American students are now finishing high school.

However, this was quite a surprise.   The state experienced budget cuts in the education department which drastically affected Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the country’s second largest school system.  Despite the lack of funds for schools, John Deasy, LAUSD Superintendent, has been pushing for a higher graduation rate and is very pleased with the outcome.  He gives credit to the effort and work of teachers and staff, as well as the distribution of funds towards schools that are struggling.

Although the efforts have been showing progress so far, the state is proceeding with a new funding system that offers more financial support for low-income families and students learning English.  The dropout rate for non-fluent English speaking students has already decreased 1.5% from 2012 to 2013.

With a lack of funding in schools, there are many other resources out there for students to get help.  Arne Duncan, the U.S.  Secretary of Education, stated “this is a matter of equity and that we have to change the opportunity equation.”  We, at Educator.com, believe this to be true and made it our mission to help provide an equal learning opportunity for every student.

Congratulations class of 2014! =D

 

*reblogged from http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-grads-dropouts-20140429,0,687653,full.story#axzz30Oaw9oVb

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How Businesses Use Your SATs

Elite companies like McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Goldman Sachs still want to know how you scored on the SAT.  “Employers used to consider educational aptitude tests as having nothing to do with the real world, but some may have read enough to know that they’re very highly correlated with job performance,” said Frank Schmidt, an expert on employment testing.  Even though companies may admit that score does not matter in their policy, their hiring history says otherwise.  “If you present someone with a lower number, usually the interview doesn’t take place,” said Mark Rich, managing director of Whitehouse Pimms in Dallas.

Why?  The main reason has to do with the fact that the SAT is still a handy screening device for the human resource department to cut down on tens of thousands of applicants.  Some employers also want to use the SAT as a measurement for how successful the candidate would be in learning proprietary software that is administer privately by the company.  Eric Eden, vice president of marketing at Cvent, suggests that the SAT measures the general mental ability, or how well a person might respond to an unspecified challenge.  In the age of rapid advancement, a strong mental adaptability might be a better predictor of success than an expertise in a specific skill.

However, not all companies agree on the SAT.  Other renowned companies such as Google question the validity of the test to accurately predict job performance.  According to researchers, Google is only interested in seeking out the very best but the SAT isn’t very effective at differentiating among the top performers.  “Today the SAT is actually too easy, and that’s why Google doesn’t see a correlation,” said Dr. Wai, a research scientist at the Duke University.  For the SAT to be a better measure for employers who only want the best of the best, it has to be harder.

 

*reblogged from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/sunday-review/how-businesses-use-your-sats.html?ref=education

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President Obama to Speak at UC Irvine’s 2014 Graduation!

Every year, many schools invite the current president to speak at commencement ceremonies.  Many have tried, but few have succeeded.

The White House has just confirmed that President Barack Obama will be the keynote speaker at the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) class of 2014 graduation!  Obama said he chose UCI because “UC Irvine does outstanding work at the undergraduate and graduate level in science and research, humanities, and professional studies, and the president looks forward to speaking with the graduates in June.”

50 years ago, President Johnson went to what is now UCI and stated:  “I have come to California to ask you to throw off your doubts about America. … Help us demonstrate to the world that people of compassion and commitment can free their fellow citizens from the bonds of injustice, the prisons of poverty and the chains of ignorance.”  So in honor of President Johnson’s 50th anniversary of dedicating the campus land, Chancellor Michael V. Drake reached out to the white house last April with an invitation for the president to speak at the 2014 commencement ceremony.  This gesture was followed by about 10,000 postcards signed by fellow Anteaters (students, faculty, staff & alumni) and a student-produced video invitation delivered to the White House Office of Public Engagement by the Vice Chancellor himself, earlier this month.

President Obama has accepted the invitation yesterday and the ceremony will take place on June 14th at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  Renting out this facility is estimated to cost over a million dollars, but it is worth it, right?  It’s not everyday you get to say “the president spoke at my graduation!”  However, Obama is only speaking at the unified commencement ceremony for undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools.  Individual school-based ceremonies where students will be called individually as they walk across the stage will be held on campus the following two days.

It’s good to be an anteater.  Zot zot!

 

*reblogged from http://news.uci.edu/press-releases/president-obama-to-speak-at-uc-irvine-commencement-celebration/ & http://www.ocregister.com/articles/president-606322-obama-speak.html

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6 Great Jobs You Can Get With an Online Degree

Nurse Practitioner

According to the American Public Health Association, nurse practitioner is a profession with high security and an employment growth of 94 percent.  They also hold a median salary of about $89,960.  To become one, you will need a Master’s in Nursing or Doctorate of Nursing Practice.  Luckily, these graduate degrees are obtainable through an online program such as the one at Medical University of South Carolina or University of Massachusetts.

Computer Systems Analyst

With a median salary of $79,680, computer systems analysts are next on the list.  They are responsible for studying a client’s computer system and designing a solution to help increase its performance.  Those seeking to become one need to have a strong communication skill and be knowledgeable in computer technology.  The job requires at least a bachelor degree in computer information technology, which can be obtained online through schools such as Colorado State University or Arizona State University.

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts earn their $60,300 median salary by analyzing people’s buying habits and preferences to help clients sell their products.  Those who are in the field typically hold a degree in math or business.  You can earn an online bachelor’s degree in business administration from schools such as Daytona State College or St. John’s University.  A Master in Business Administration (MBA) is a plus and can be earned from many institutions such as Washington State University and Arizona State University.

Cost Estimator

A cost estimator works with engineers, architects, and construction managers to estimate the cost of construction before it even begins.   A strong background in construction and a degree in accounting finance, or business can help you secure the job.  Central Michigan University and Pace University are among the top schools to offer an online degree in business.

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists seek to create and maintain a positive image for a company through a variety of means. The median salary for this job is around $54,170.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for public relations specialist is expected to increase as much as 23 percent between 2010 and 2020.  Employers of this field look for people with strong written and oral communication skills.  Pennsylvania State University offers an online bachelor’s of arts in advertising and public relations while Pace University has an online bachelor’s of science program in communication studies.

Speech-language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists help people who have communication disorder due to brain injury, hearing loss, or other illnesses to regain or improve their speech pattern.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of speech-language pathologists work in schools.  This profession has a median salary of $69,870 and requires a master’s degree in speech-language pathology or related field.  For those who interested, the Idaho State University and the University of Northern Colorado both offer an online master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

 

*Reblogged from : http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2014/03/03/6-great-jobs-you-can-get-with-an-online-degree

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The SAT is Changing Again!

The College Board just announced the SAT will be bringing back the 1600-point scoring system, effective Spring 2016!  David Coleman, president of the College Board, states the logic behind this redesign of the SAT is because the college admission exam has “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”  He admitted that high school grades better reflect college success than standardized test scores.  In this new format, students can expect to reinforce the skills and evidence-based thinking that they are learning in school.

 

The redesigned SAT will mimic the ACT more than before since the ACT has been adopted by 13, going on 16, states as the new public high school test.  The new SAT will switch back to a two-part exam:  Math and “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing”.  Each section will be worth 800 points just like the original SAT, for a total score of 1600.  The essay portion is now optional and will have a separate score.  Below are some changes within the content of the new SAT:

  • Math questions will focus on three areas:  linear equations, functions, and proportional thinking.
  • The ridiculous SAT vocabulary words will be replaced by common terms used in college courses.
  • You will have to source documents in the Reading & Writing section, including choosing the quote that supports your answer.
  • Every exam will include a passage from a founding document or great global conversation.
  • A science passage will be added into the Reading & Writing section.

Changes about the format of the exam:

  • No more calculators!
  • No more penalties for guessing wrong!!
  • Optional Essay.
  • The exam will now be offered on paper and the computer!  Yay!

 

One last note:  The College Board announced new programs for low-income students.  They will be able to apply to four colleges for free!  The College Board has also partnered up with Khan Academy to offer free online practice problems from old tests as well as video tutorials to demonstrate how to solve the problems.

 

*Re-blogged from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/education/major-changes-in-sat-announced-by-college-board.html?_r=0

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College No Matter What: First Lady’s New Initiative

Using her own struggles as an example, Michelle Obama addressed sophomores at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington last month and shared with them the monumental importance of pursuing higher education no matter what.

The First Lady is no stranger to academic adversity. As an underprivileged high school student in Chicago, she dreamed of graduating from Princeton University while riding the bus across town to attend a better school. “Some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high,” Mrs. Obama said during her speech. “They told me I was never going to get into a school like Princeton.” The odds were stacked against her, yet she remained focused on her classes and eventually made her college dreams come true.

Her effort to keep that same dream alive for low-income students across America is part of a larger initiative to have the United States rank first in the world in the percentage of college graduates. According to the New York Times, the United States once lead the world in the number of 25 to 34 year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. Every year more jobs are requiring degrees beyond a high school diploma and by 2020, the presidential couple hopes to make sure America’s young adults are ready and competitive.

The main tenants of her speech included advice about students taking responsibility for their own futures, managing their time, and working without supervision. “Nobody was going to take my hand and lead me to where I needed to go,” Mrs. Obama explained, “Instead it was going to be up to me to reach my goal. I would have to chart my own course.”

Graduating from high school, getting into a good college, and staying in college takes hard work and discipline, but more than anything it takes the right attitude. Mrs. Obama stressed the importance of commitment regardless of circumstances or obstacles: “No matter what path you choose, no matter what dreams you have, you have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school.”

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The Absolute Best Things to Do Over the Summer

Whether you’re in high school or working hard to get through college, summer is a great time to brush up on your skills, spend time on your non-academic interests, and do activities that will make your resume impressive to future colleges or employers. It can be tempting to waste those three months chilling by the pool, but if you can also work in some of these absolute best things to do over the summer you’ll be better off for it.

Get a J.O.B

Not only will you impress your parents and earn some extra spending money, but having a job over the summer can prepare you for a variety of real-world experiences. If you can, try to pick something related to one of your career interests or major. Thinking about becoming a fashion designer? Work part time at a retail store. You’ll learn how to work on a team, how to arrange a sales floor, count change at the register, fold a perfect pair of jeans, assemble wardrooms for clients, and get to practice your customer service skills. Taking advantage of the awesome employee discounts doesn’t hurt either. Or maybe you’re interested in non-profit work? Apply for a job working on a grass roots campaign, an environmental organization, or a charity. These types of groups always need people to work the phones, canvas the streets, and help with clerical jobs in the office. You’ll learn how to stand out in a large group, perfect your persuasive skills, communicate effectively, and simultaneously make good money and work out while going door to door. Your youth is an asset to many companies looking to hire energetic, excited young people to fill in any summer holes in their personnel. There are so many jobs out there for high school students. Slap your summer employment on your resume and even if you don’t need it yet, don’t forget to ask for a recommendation letter!

Give Back

Volunteering is one of the best ways to gain valuable work and leadership experience. You may not make a ton of money, but you will meet new people, learn new skills, and feel great about yourself after your service project is completed. Soup kitchens, animal shelters, grocery stores, libraries, and even law firms take on volunteer workers during the summer months to help out. Want to become a teacher one day? Read to children or tutor adult learners a few times a week at your local library. Interested in architecture? Build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Want to go into politics? Join a politically-minded environmentalist group that cleans beaches on weekends. Or maybe you’re on the pre-med track? Be a companion or activities leader at a nursing home. The people you help will appreciate your service and volunteer work looks incredible on resumes.

Get Outta Town

Not everyone can travel, but if you can, do it! Summer travel and summer enrichment programs are great ways to enrich your mind, discover new places and cultures, and enhance your resume with incredible experiences. Summer enrichment programs (although not all require extensive travel) are usually tailored around specific disciplines like theater, computer science, music, dance, or engineering, Whether you leave the country or just leave home for a few weeks, you’ll learn how to expand your perspectives and awareness. Colleges and employers also love well-traveled applicants, who are curious and eager to take on challenges. If you speak or are learning a foreign language, traveling is also a great way to practice your skills. There are so many high school summer programs aboard, teen trips, and pre-college travel programs. Here’s one or two to get your started. In addition to traveling for enrichment or academic purposes, if you’re a junior or senior in high school, make sure you visit some colleges that you’ve either applied to or want to apply to.

Stay in School

Summer school doesn’t have to be a drag and can actually be quite fun. The trick is to take fun courses in subjects you’re interested in (and maybe a few you have to take). Colleges and employers love to see additional courses on your transcript and resume. It means you take initiative, that you’re hard working, and that you love to learn. Taking classes over the summer is also a great way to meet new people, discover new interests, and keep your mind sharp. If your high school offers summer school, enroll, but you could also take courses at a local university, community college or junior college. Most community colleges will also give full or partial college credit which you can apply to your future college. You can get a head of the game by taking an introductory course and using those credits toward a course you would have had to of taken otherwise in college. Sweet!

 

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Computers May Be Just as Effective as Classroom

New findings in e-learning technologies suggest computers may be just as effective as classrooms. Educator.com continues to be at the forefront of educational websites with over 60+ subjects in math, science, and computer science.

In November 1984, New York students signed up for the first online class. Since then, many people have debated over whether online education could provide a learning experience that was just as effective as traditional classrooms. That debate appears to be coming to an end and Educator.com has kept up with the demands of students who feel online learning best suits them.

Ithaka S+R recently released a new research study, which compared two versions of an introductory statistics course. In the study, one course was taught face-to-face by college professors, while the other was taught mostly online with only an hour a week of face time with the instructor. On every measure of learning, researchers found that students performed equally well in both environments. To the surprise of many, the only difference was that the online group appeared to learn faster. The 93-page report on online education concluded that online learning can suit a wide variety of students and “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

Lawrence Bacow, Tufts University’s former president, who also co-authored the first report, stated that the findings show that “even in its infancy, [online education] does well.” Students today are much more familiar with digital tools than previous generations and according to Bacow, “This is only going to get better over time.’’

In addition to its functionality, online education also creates access to knowledge where there may have previously only been limited options. Financially strapped students and budget-conscious families may find e-learning the best route toward their academic goals. Servicing the needs of students who learn best online, Educator.com provides students with a variety of college level courses, along with 60+ other high school and professional subjects, for the affordable price of $35 dollars a month. Opt for the 6 month or 12 month bundle plan and save even more.

Unlike other educational websites, Educator.com does not charge a separate price for each section. No matter where they are, students can watch and learn from Linear Algebra or Physics videos. They will also have access to asking questions, detailed notes at the end of each lesson, and downloadable slides from lectures. A customized, dual-screen interface creates a unique one-to-one online learning environment that enables students to see both the professor and the whiteboard at the same time. With the right combination of online tools and quality instruction, the process of learning is more effective and engaging.

Although the debate may still continue, Educator.com is determined to meet the demands of today’s scholars. New and exciting courses are frequently added.

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Educator.com pairs students with the best university professors and educators in the country. Educator’s goal is to provide high school, college, and professional students with a variety of academic subjects in an online video format that is affordable, accessible, effective, and comprehensive.

The most efficient way to improve education is to have the best teachers teach. With the best instructor in a subject, learning anything is possible. Every student deserves an excellent education regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status and with Educator’s affordable pricing, everyone can access the site’s complete content. For more information on the company please visit our about page.

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Great Teaching Matters: Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project

If only schools had more money. If only class sizes were smaller. If only schools had more computers. When it comes to education in America, it seems that the “if onlys” are endless. Last week, eager to learn more about urban education, I sat in on an AP English class at Fremont High School in Los Angeles. As I observed a fellow, seasoned teacher instruct his junior class, those exact same sentiments about how to improve education came to mind. Over 40 occupied desks filled the classroom, one computer in the back kept me company, and a tardy student swept the floor because janitorial services have been cut from the school’s budget. Yet somehow, despite the challenges, effective teaching and learning managed to flourish all around me.

According to The Measures of Effective Teaching Project (MET), research shows that great teaching matters more than anything else within a school.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, MET was a three-year study designed to determine how to best recognize and encourage great teaching. The study released its third and final research report last month. 3,000 teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Dallas Independent Schools, the Denver Public Schools, the Hillsborough County Public Schools, the Memphis Public Schools, the New York City Schools, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools volunteered to open up their classrooms for research purposes. The results were truly remarkable and will be very useful to school districts working to develop new training, feedback, and evaluation systems for teachers.

Vicki Phillips, Director of Education at College Ready, a U.S. Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explains what many educators and administrators are already well aware of. “Teaching is complex,” Phillips says, “and great practice takes time, passion, high-quality materials, and tailored feedback designed to help each teacher continuously grow and improve.”

If the necessities of the teaching profession are already well-known, then why are there still so any problems in education? The answer may lie in the organization, or lack thereof, of revealing information on this topic. To date, there has not been a cohesive, collective research study done that solely focused on measuring effective teaching.

“Teachers have always wanted better feedback,” Phillips adds, “and the MET project has highlighted tools that can allow teachers to take control of their own development. The combination of those measures and student growth data creates actionable information that teachers can trust.”

The project sheds light on some very important questions in the education field: How do we identify great teaching, promote quality instruction, and retain those teachers who are doing exceptional work in the classroom? To find the answers, the study combined three types of measures:

  • classroom observations
  • student surveys
  • student achievement gains

Key findings from the report include:

  • It is possible to develop reliable measures that identify great teaching.
  • There are significant trade-offs involved when school systems combine different measures.
  • Guidance on the best ways to achieve reliable classroom observations.

“If we want students to learn more, teachers must become students of their own teaching. Public school systems across the country have been re-thinking how they describe instructional excellence and letting teachers know when they’ve achieved it,” says Tom Kane, Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and leader of the MET project. “This is not about accountability. It’s about providing the feedback every professional needs to strive towards excellence.”

Quality teachers matter and effective instruction can only occur when talented educators are placed in front of the white board. Money, class size, and technology are all contributing factors, but they will never engage a group of students the way a well-trained and highly educated teacher can. Good teaching is easy to spot, but not always easy to come by. Yet, even from the back of the classroom, I could see its powerful influence.

 

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