A two-year project to study what makes a teacher good or bad is taking root in some of the city’s schools after struggling to bring teachers on board.
The United Federation of Teachers and the city’s Department of Education announced in September that they had joined forces to promote a study of teacher effectiveness paid for by the Gates Foundation. The $2.6 million project, called Measures of Effective Teaching, will look at ways of measuring teacher quality beyond using test scores.
A UFT special representative, Joseph Colletti, said 96 schools, most of them high schools, have signed onto the project. The goal is to have 100.
“They run the gamut from very high performing schools to schools that are challenged, from senior staff, to new staff,” Colletti said.
Though UFT president Michael Mulgrew enthusiastically supported the project, his eagerness took some time to trickle down to the union’s membership. The DOE changed its mid-October deadline for applications to a rolling deadline after too-few teachers applied.
A spokeswoman for the DOE, Ann Forte, said the city was looking for between 500 and 1,000 applicants and was still recruiting.
“It was tough to get word out in September,” Colletti said. “It wasn’t lack of interest, it was just poor timing. People were concerned with setting up their classrooms, there were so many other things they had to worry about.”
James Eterno, a teacher at Jamaica High School in Queens, said the veteran teachers at his school have been wary of the project because of the Gates Foundation’s involvement.
“Teachers are so shell shocked by what’s gone on with data in the last few years that everyone is skeptical,” said Eterno, who is running for president of the UFT.
Over the course of the next two years, researchers will use video observations, teacher and student surveys, as well as students’ test scores, to analyze teacher quality.
Teachers receive a $1,500 stipend for participating in the study.