Harvard studies GCPS' teacher effectiveness, student success

SUWANEE -- During Thursday's work session, leaders with Gwinnett County Public Schools examined a study by Harvard University that looked at teacher effectiveness and post-secondary outcomes for students over a period of several years.

Gwinnett County Public Schools was one of six school districts in the nation asked to take part in the diagnostic report, a research project by Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research.

By connecting student data to teacher data through a Human Capital Diagnostic, the study aimed to calculate teacher effectiveness.

Deputy Superintendent Gale Hey provided the school board with the project's findings: high turnover rates can lead to new hires and less experienced teachers; late hires are slightly less effective than their peers hired before the school year began; and teacher effectiveness for teachers with advanced degrees is, on average, no different from their colleagues without such degrees.

The last point Chairwoman Louise Radloff found "surprising."

"That's a very strong statement," Radloff said.

Hey echoed that it was indeed surprising. She then read the results of the College-Going Diagnostic, which measured post-secondary outcomes for students.

The study found that ninth-grade performance had a large influence on graduation; schools with students who have higher incoming eighth-grade math scores generally have higher graduation rates; more than 10 percent of high school graduates choose not to go to college despite having the academic qualifications.

The study also found that among seamless four-year college enrollees, almost 50 percent attend the same five-year colleges: Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Gainesville State College, Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Southern University.

Spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that the study also revealed that in Gwinnett, the college-going rates of black students surpassed those of similar white students by 5.2 percent.

In addition, the data review "confirmed that (GCPS) has more work to do in terms of helping our Latino students achieve their college goals."

Roach said the district "also would like to study the finding that just about 18 percent of highly qualified high school graduates in Gwinnett choose to attend less selective postsecondary institutions or opt to not attend college."

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said that such data will help the district vastly.

"I contend that sometimes we're starving for good information," Wilbanks said. "There were a few things that were a surprise to us in this project, but the information has been extremely valuable and we'll be able to analyze it."


apsLilburn 1 year, 12 months ago

When it comes to the GCPS, I don't believe anything Wilbanks or his spokespuppet Roach says. Watch what happens on the upcoming round of downsizing. Teachers will take the brunt of the pain while administrators will keep their positions all the while Roach will act like Leslie Neilsen in Naked Gun stating "Move along, nothing to see here."


ssilover1 1 year, 12 months ago

And that is why you aren't superintendent.


apsLilburn 1 year, 12 months ago

ssilover1: Great post. What a fantastic, well thought out comment. How long did that take you? Is your last name Wilbanks or Roach?


R 1 year, 12 months ago

400K doesn't go as far as it used to you know ...


BuzzG 1 year, 12 months ago

"The last point Chairwoman Louise Radloff found 'surprising'"

It is not surprising to anyone without an agenda.


GwinnettFan 1 year, 12 months ago

A hallmark of a great organization is a willingness to listen to expert, professional feedback. I’ve always admired Gwinnett for its willingness to compare itself against the national top performers. It is an approach that takes guts and can be painful, yet is the only way to become or remain an elite athlete, a successful company, a top salesman, or a strong school system. Thumbs up!


ssilover1 1 year, 12 months ago

It reads as if the board and the support staff have accepted what the research tells them and that they will move to using the research to make a difference in so many areas. After having spent almost 20 years working with Hispanic community I am grateful that they will continue to analyze those students' achievement and open the horizons for them. That is not to say that has been totally ignored, but having real data can be used to get grants, etc. that will speak directly to that issue. Also, the Harvard studies are so well done they merit a lot of respect. I really don't know what BuzzG intended in his comment, but Ms. Radloff is one who has always respected educators and I am sure she is surprised that advanced degrees don't make a difference. I guess we all should be really, but it is no different than any other profession where people with advanced degrees may not know how to relate...but then again, maybe they do. Each person's effectivdness or lack thereof depends on multiple factors and not just a piece of paper. Remember, there are medical doctors who no one would go to.


Ashley 1 year, 12 months ago

ssilover1 - What is your job at the ISC?


kevin 1 year, 12 months ago

How much did the system have to pay or rather donate, to Harvard for this study? What do we need Harvard for? Nothing if you ask me.


JCC 1 year, 12 months ago

Harvard paid for it since it was their study.


toby 1 year, 12 months ago

I wonder how much that cost the taxpayers? About the higher degreed teachers vs. the lower degreed ones. A degree does not make the teacher. I feel for teachers to begin with and they are a lot of highly educated idiots in the world. A lot of them demand you call them doctor and they couldn't take a temperature. A teacher is a skill that degrees don't teach. The degree teaches the subject matter, not the caring, the wanting a student to improve or the hours they put in out of the classroom preparing. Me, no way I could be a teacher. I know a lot but I can't teach it to someone else. As for the Latino's, they are just like anyone else. Make good grades, participate in activities, score high on SAT and they to can go to college IF THEY WANT TOO. What they are saying is that more tax money will get the Latino's to college and that is BS. The want to go to college will get them there.


Susan 1 year, 12 months ago

I was a field tester for the study. Harvard paid me. Harvard paid the participating teachers for their time. Harvard provided souvenir pencils for all the students who participated. This cost the taxpayers absolutely nothing. Each test session, one in the fall, one in the spring took maximum of 75 minutes of the students' time.


JohninSuwanee 1 year, 12 months ago

In reference to the statement " [the study] confirmed that (GCPS) has more work to do in terms of helping our Latino students achieve their college goals", why must we continue to spend increasing amounts of our declining school budget to "help the Latino students"? Why can't they simply avail themselves to the same resources that the rest of our students have? If other ethicities are able to gain entry to colleges with the standard curriculum, there is no reason why Latino students can't. They are faced with the same challenges that children from other ethnic backgrounds have, yet we feel we need to do more? They are being given the opportunity to attend outstanding schools with highly skilled educators. The responsibility lies solely with them to make use of what is offered to them.


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