Secrets from the Data Cave: February 2014

Posted on February 27, 2014 | in Uncategorized | by CRC

by Ashley Faherty

Welcome to CRCs monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who dont know, the title references our room fondly referred to as the bat cave where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here well be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what were implementing here at CRC!

February 2014: Predicting Student Achievement to Hire the Best Teacher, Faster

Teacher at Chalkboard

The hiring process in any field can be an arduous task. First, HR has to sift through many (sometimes hundreds, or even thousands) of resumes. Then, they take those that are best qualified and pass them along to the hiring manager. That person has to go through the resumes, as well, and contact the desired individuals. Afterwards, interviews, skill testing, and other steps ensue. And when hiring teachers, you have the not insignificant, added pressure of finding someone who can positively shape the minds of the future leaders of tomorrow. (Whoa.)

In the tricky case of teacher hiring, what if there could be an initial screening that would be completed with applicants even before human resources logs those many hours skimming resumes? Sure, there are teacher selection tools already in use, such as the Haberman Star Teacher Pre-Screener and Gallups Teacher Insight. But, some argue that they dont hit an important outcome of teaching levels of student achievement.

Hanover Research and TeacherMatch feel theyve bridged this gap in the teacher selection process through the creation of Paragon K12 and Educators Professional Inventory, respectively. Both of these evaluation tools are presented as web-based software that is very easy to learn and use. So how do they work? A candidate submits an application and resume for a teaching job and is then directed to whichever program the district has chosen to utilize. The candidate completes the assessment online, then the software examines this data via a large-scale meta-analysis on hundreds of thousands of variables, all of which have been found to be correlated with student achievement. Paragon K12 identifies important teacher qualifications and characteristics such as experience, education, credential pathways, attitudes, attributes, self-efficacy, and cognitive ability. EPI also focuses on these items, with the addition of teaching skills (or knowledge of teaching methods that bolster academic learning). Then, all applicants are given a score or ranked according to who would have the largest impact on student achievement. Hiring managers can view the results immediately via a customized dashboard, and can see more in-depth information about each individual applicant if desired. They can then move on to the next step of hiring interviewing those who scored or ranked the highest.

A cool feature of the TeacherMatch software is that it points out which knowledge and skills are most important to your school or district based on the candidates you have chosen to hire in this past. This then allows the software to do its job even better in the future, as you can instruct it to put more weight on those areas so that it will increase the effectiveness of its predictions. It also provides a Professional Development Profile (PDP) to the candidates who are offered positions. This profile assists them with steps they can take to become better teachers, such as suggestions on acquiring more knowledge in certain areas.

As with many topics in education, these programs could be controversial because there will undoubtedly be people who feel that they place too much emphasis on test scores. But, consider the table below.

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In light of the fact that 46% of teachers leave teaching after only 5 years of experience in the field, any tool that helps to ensure the hiring of quality teachers, and can even help them to improve, should at least be considered for use in assisting the hiring process along with other methods of schools and districts choice.