In February, I wrote about an academic article by Matthew P. Steinberg and Lauren Sartain in which they reported on Chicago’s experiment in doing serious teacher evaluation. Steinberg and Sartain now have a semi-popular version of their work in EducationNext. The new version has a picture that’s worth looking at.
Why did I put “low-poverty” in quotes? Note that 60 percent of students in these schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Nation-wide, half of students are eligible for the lunch program, so these “low-poverty” schools are still poorer than the average American school.
What’s going on? Here’s the authors’ speculation:
We suspect that this finding is the result of the unequal allocation of principals and teachers across schools as well as additional demands placed on teachers and principals in more disadvantaged schools, which may impede their abilities to implement these types of reforms.
There’s a lesson here. For reforms to work, even well-designed reforms, the teachers and principals who are the ground troops have to have both the ability and the resources to make needed changes. That’s especially tough in exactly those schools where the need for change is the greatest.