The Education Report: Weinberg: Rules requiring struggling schools to replace half their teachers are misguided

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October 29, 2012
By Steven Weinberg

One of the most divisive elements of the “turnaround model” being used to improve test score results in many low scoring schools throughout the country, is the requirement that half the teaching staff be replaced.

State and federal projects that funnel increased funding to those schools often require such staff changes, arguing that they are necessary for school improvement, while teacher unions and parents oppose them because of the disruption they create.

Now a study, reported in Education Week, says that provision doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.

The requirement that half the teaching staff of a school be replaced assumed that less effective teachers would be removed and more effective teachers would stay. It does not work that way, according to Michael Hansen of the American Institutes for Research, which has conducted the most complete research on such programs to date. The study looked at 111 chronically low-performing elementary and middle schools in Florida and North Carolina between 2002 and 2008.

According to the Education Week article, Hansen found that “teachers who left schools during improvement were not always the worst performers; in fact, they ran the gamut of effectiveness.”

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