In low-income schools, parents want teachers who teach: in affluent schools, other things matter.Recent government education policies seem to assume that academic achievement as measured by test scores is the primary objective of public education. A prime example is the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires schools to bring all of their students to "proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession, or branch of learning.
An expert; an adept. " levels on math and reading tests by 2014. Many state accountability plans judge schools on the basis of these tests alone, and some states and school districts are considering tying teachers' compensation to student test results. Yet education historically has served a variety of functions (e.g., socialization socialization /so·cial·iza·tion/ (so?shal-i-za´shun) the process by which society integrates the individual and the individual learns to behave in socially acceptable ways.
n. , civic training), and public support for music and art in school suggests that parents value things beyond high test scores.
Are test scores the educational outcomes that parents value most? We tackle this question by examining the types of teachers that parents request for their elementary school elementary school: see school. children. We find that, on average, parents strongly prefer teachers whom principals describe as best able to promote student satisfaction, though parents also value teacher ability to improve student academics. These aggregate effects, however, mask striking differences across schools. Parents in high-poverty schools strongly value a teacher's ability to raise student achievement and appear indifferent INDIFFERENT. To have no bias nor partiality. 7 Conn. 229. A juror, an arbitrator, and a witness, ought to be indifferent, and when they are not so, they may be challenged. See 9 Conn. 42. to student satisfaction. In wealthier schools the results are reversed: parents most value a teacher's ability to keep students happy.
This study combines data on teacher requests (by parents) and teacher evaluations (by principals) from 12 elementary schools in a midsized school district that asked to remain anonymous, in the western United States Noun 1. western United States - the region of the United States lying to the west of the Mississippi River
Santa Fe Trail - a trail that extends from Missouri to New Mexico; an important route for settlers moving west in the 19th century . The students in the district are predominantly pre·dom·i·nant
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.
2. white (73 percent), but there is a reasonable degree of diversity in terms of ethnicity ethnicity Vox populi Racial status–ie, African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic and socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. . Roughly 35 percent of the white students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Latino students, 84 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, comprise 21 percent of the student population. Achievement levels in the district nearly match the average of the nation (49th percentile percentile,
n the number in a frequency distribution below which a certain percentage of fees will fall. E.g., the ninetieth percentile is the number that divides the distribution of fees into the lower 90% and the upper 10%, or that fee level on the Stanford Achievement Test).
There is no formal procedure for parents to request specific teachers in the district. Principals report that they assign students to classes with an eye toward balancing race, gender, and ability across classrooms within the same grade. Parents submit requests during the spring or summer, and principals make assignments over the summer. During our analysis period, roughly 22 percent of parents requested a teacher each year and 79 percent of teachers received at least one parental request. Parents are also able to request that their child not be placed with a particular teacher (a "negative request"). Only about 9 percent of teachers received any negative requests, and 92 percent of teachers with negative requests had at least one positive request as well. Principals report that they are generally able to honor As a verb, to accept a bill of exchange, or to pay a note, check, or accepted bill, at maturity. To pay or to accept and pay, or, where a credit so engages, to purchase or discount a draft complying with the terms of the draft. almost all requests, giving parents an incentive to truthfully reveal their first preference.
Parents in the district appear to have strong and varied preferences for teachers. Among those teachers receiving at least one request, the average number of requests was 6.2. Whereas the teacher at the 25th percentile received only 2 requests, the teacher at the 75th percentile received 8 requests. Moreover, there are often large differences between the most-requested and least-requested teacher within the same school, grade, and year: The average difference is 7.4, and in 10 percent of grades, the difference is larger than 17.
Our data include information on requests made for the 2005-06 school year (the "request year") in the summer of 2005 for kindergarten kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be through 6th-grade teachers in all 12 schools in our sample, as well as information from an earlier year for two of the schools. We exclude from our analysis those teachers parents could not have plausibly plau·si·ble
1. Seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible: a plausible excuse.
2. Giving a deceptive impression of truth or reliability.
3. requested--mainly new teachers (unless parents specifically requested the "new" teacher), who comprised about 17 percent of those teaching in the request year. Note that we include teachers who did not receive any requests, as long as they taught in the same grade and school in the request year and the prior year. Our final sample consists of 256 individual teachers. Parents who made requests chose, on average, from among approximately three different teachers.
With the assistance of the district, we linked the parental request data to administrative data on teachers and students. Because the administrative files provide only a very coarse measure of family socioeconomic so·ci·o·ec·o·nom·ic
Of or involving both social and economic factors.
of or involving economic and social factors
Adj. 1. status--eligibility for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program--we constructed an additional proxy for family income by matching each student's residential address to U.S. Census data on the median household income The median household income is commonly used to provide data about geographic areas and divides households into two equal segments with the first half of households earning less than the median household income and the other half earning more. in the student's neighborhood.
Finally, to supplement our information on teachers, we administered a survey to all elementary school principals in February February: see month. 2003 and March 2006. In these surveys, we asked principals to evaluate their teachers along a variety of dimensions, including dedication and work ethic work ethic
A set of values based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence.
a belief in the moral value of work , organization, classroom management, parent satisfaction, positive relationship with administrators, student satisfaction, role model value for students, and ability to raise math and reading achievement. The average rating was roughly 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, indicating that principals were quite lenient le·ni·ent
Inclined not to be harsh or strict; merciful, generous, or indulgent: lenient parents; lenient rules. in their assessments. On the basis of these survey results, we created three measures: (1) the principal's overall assessment of the teacher's effectiveness, which is a single item from the survey; (2) the teacher's ability to improve student academic performance, which is a simple average of the organization, classroom management, reading achievement, and math achievement survey items; and (3) the teacher's ability to increase student satisfaction, which is a simple average of the role model and student satisfaction survey items. If a teacher was rated by the principal on both the 2003 and 2006 surveys, we use the average of the two ratings.
In previous research using the 2003 principal survey data (see "When Principals Rate Teachers," research, Spring 2006), we found that principals in the district are usually able to identify the most and least effective teachers in their schools, as measured by their students' academic progress. However, principals appear to be less successful in differentiating between teachers near the middle of the distribution of teacher effectiveness.
What kinds of parents make requests?
We begin by examining the characteristics of families who make requests. This is important for two reasons. First, our analysis of parent preferences will reflect only the views of those parents who actually made requests, so it is important to understand this group. Second, whether different types of families are more or less likely to make a request has important implications. If high-income high-in·come
Of or relating to individuals or groups, such as families, that are supported by or earn income considered high in comparison with that of the larger population: high-income taxpayers. parents are more likely to make a request, and such requests are for better teachers on average, then the availability of requests could exacerbate the achievement gap between students from low-and high-income families, even if all families equally value academic achievement.
In this district, families that are not eligible for the federal lunch program are about twice as likely to make a request as those that are eligible: 30 percent of families who are not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch make a request compared with only 13 percent of eligible families. Interestingly, these fractions are nearly identical across schools with very different poverty levels. Thus the socioeconomic makeup makeup
In the performing arts, material used by actors for cosmetic purposes and to help create the characters they play. Not needed in Greek and Roman theatre because of the use of masks, makeup was used in the religious plays of medieval Europe, in which the angels' faces of the school does not appear to affect whether parents make a request, although the socioeconomic status of the family does.
We also conducted a more sophisticated analysis that measures the relationship between a family's demographic characteristics (such as eligibility for free- or reduced-price lunch, median household income of the student's residential neighborhood, race, and student prior achievement level), a school's poverty level, and the likelihood that the parent makes a request. These results confirm that, conditional on the characteristics of the family and student, parents in high- and low-poverty schools are about equally likely to make a request. However, parents of low-income low-in·come
Of or relating to individuals or households supported by an income that is below average. students are about 6 percentage points less likely to make a request than parents of high-income students (9 percent vs. 15 percent). Additionally, parents from high-income neighborhoods are about 4 percentage points more likely to make a request than parents from low-income neighborhoods (17 percent vs. 13 percent). Finally, Hispanic Hispanic Multiculture A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race Social medicine Any of 17 major Latino subcultures, concentrated in California, Texas, Chicago, Miam, NY, and elsewhere parents are significantly less likely to request a particular teacher for their child than are other families in the district.
After taking into account differences in socioeconomic status, we found that parents of higher-achieving students are more likely to make a request, which perhaps reflects greater sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. or interest on the part of these families. The parents of a student whose performance is 1 standard deviation In statistics, the average amount a number varies from the average number in a series of numbers.
(statistics) standard deviation - (SD) A measure of the range of values in a set of numbers. above the mean are about 8 percentage points more likely to make a request than the parents of an otherwise similar student whose performance is 1 standard deviation below the mean (19 percent vs. 11 percent).
What kinds of teachers do parents request?
In general, parents who make a request exhibit a strong preference for teachers who have received higher overall ratings by the school principal. However, recall that the principals' survey responses allowed us to construct separate measures of two distinct aspects of teacher quality: the ability to improve student achievement and the ability to provide an enjoyable classroom experience for students. While positively correlated cor·re·late
v. cor·re·lat·ed, cor·re·lat·ing, cor·re·lates
1. To put or bring into causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relation.
2. , these two factors appear to reflect distinct characteristics that vary across teachers. Overall, we find that parents value the teacher's performance on both the student satisfaction and achievement measures, but give more weight to the satisfaction measure.
Even more interesting, however, we find stark differences across schools in the type of teachers that parents tend to request. We find that parents making requests in high-poverty schools place less value on student satisfaction than those in lower-poverty schools. Conversely con·verse 1
intr.v. con·versed, con·vers·ing, con·vers·es
1. To engage in a spoken exchange of thoughts, ideas, or feelings; talk. See Synonyms at speak.
2. , parents in high-poverty schools value a teacher's ability to improve student achievement considerably more than parents in lower-poverty schools.
On the other hand, within a school, a family's own socioeconomic status is uncorrelated with the type of teacher a parent requests. That is, both more- and less-advantaged parents in low-income schools tend to request teachers that are rated highly in terms of their ability to improve student achievement. In contrast, parents from all backgrounds in higher-income schools tend to request teachers who are rated more highly in terms of their ability to improve student satisfaction. When we control for the socioeconomic status of both the student and school, our findings are the same: student characteristics are not related to the type of teachers that parents prefer, while school characteristics are strongly related to parental preferences for teachers.
To quantify Quantify - A performance analysis tool from Pure Software. these differences, we used our results to simulate simulate - simulation parent choices (see Figure 1). For the sake of simplicity, we first consider a situation in which a parent can choose between two teachers: one teacher has an average rating for both achievement and satisfaction; the other teacher has an average rating for achievement, but a high rating on the satisfaction measure (i.e., a rating 1 standard deviation above the mean). We calculate the percentage of parents with average background characteristics who would choose the high-satisfaction teacher. Next, we change one characteristic of either the parent or school and calculate how this change would affect the percent of parents who would choose the high-satisfaction teacher.
In a school where 80 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, the parents of the average child would have a 48 percent chance of selecting the teacher with a high-satisfaction and average achievement rating over the teacher with average ratings on both satisfaction and achievement. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , these parents are no more likely to choose the high-satisfaction teacher than if they had randomly chosen which teacher to request. In contrast, if the child attends a school where only 20 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, there would be a 65 percent probability that their parents would select the high-satisfaction teacher. The 17 percentage point difference is large and statistically significant.
We then consider the scenario where the choice is between two teachers who have the same satisfaction rating but different achievement ratings, and see the opposite result. Parents in the lower-poverty school are no more likely than they would be by chance to select the teacher with a high achievement rating (51 percent), whereas parents in the higher-poverty school would choose the teacher with a higher achievement rating 62 percent of the time. Again, the difference of 11 percentage points is statistically significant.
As one might expect, parents of kindergarten children appear to value satisfaction more and academics less than other parents, though this difference is small and bordering on statistical insignificance in·sig·nif·i·cance
The quality or state of being insignificant.
Noun 1. insignificance - the quality of having little or no significance
unimportance - the quality of not being important or worthy of note . Grade level is otherwise unrelated to preferences for teacher attributes.
Parent requests and classroom effectiveness
It is important to emphasize that the results presented above reflect both what parents observe and what they value. To the extent that parents have less information on a particular teacher characteristic, our findings may underestimate parent preferences for this characteristic. In particular, one might be concerned that parents do not have accurate information on teachers' ability to raise student achievement. For this reason, we focus primarily on information from the principal survey, which likely reflects teacher behaviors or qualities that parents might learn from observing the teacher's classroom or speaking with friends and neighbors who have had experience with the teacher in the past.
To test the sensitivity of our results to this methodological decision, we constructed a value-added indicator that measures a teacher's contribution to student achievement (accounting for a wide variety of student and classroom characteristics that could affect achievement independent of the teacher's ability). We find that teachers who perform better on our value-added measure also receive more parent requests, even after controlling for the student satisfaction measure from the principal surveys. However, when we also control for the principal-reported academic measure, this relationship is no longer significant, although the relationships between parent requests and both principal-reported measures remain positive and significant. These results suggest either that the academic considerations parents value are better captured by principal ratings or that parents have difficulty observing how much value a teacher adds to reading and math test scores.
The results presented above suggest that parents in low-income schools strongly value student achievement and are essentially indifferent to a teacher's ability to promote student satisfaction. The results are reversed for families in higher-income schools. At the same time, we find that parent preferences within schools are identical across several measures of family socioeconomic status. How should we interpret these results?
One possible explanation emphasizes the role of school context in the educational process, particularly the interaction between parents, schools, and students. In this view, high- and low-income parents have similar preferences for student outcomes, but face constraints CONSTRAINTS - A language for solving constraints using value inference.
["CONSTRAINTS: A Language for Expressing Almost-Hierarchical Descriptions", G.J. Sussman et al, Artif Intell 14(1):1-39 (Aug 1980)]. that are correlated with school demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. . Because academic resources are relatively scarce in higher-poverty schools (e.g., there are more disruptive disruptive /dis·rup·tive/ (-tiv)
1. bursting apart; rending.
2. causing confusion or disorder. peers, lower academic expectations, fewer financial resources, and less-competent teachers), parents in these schools seek teachers skilled at improving achievement even if this comes at the cost of student satisfaction.
If this explanation were true, we would expect to find a positive association between school-level income and school-level academic inputs, and a negative association between school-level income and the differences in the value-added by teachers within the same school. The second prediction is simply a consequence of diminishing returns diminishing returns
the characteristic of any production system in which increases in variable inputs result in increasing reduction of total output. An indicator of when to stop making additional inputs to the system, when the input exceeds the additional output. to academic inputs. More specifically, if the average quality of teachers in a school is already high, being assigned as·sign
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.
2. to one of the better teachers will have only a limited effect on student achievement.
To what extent are these predictions borne out in the data? A comparison of observable ob·serv·a·ble
1. Possible to observe: observable phenomena; an observable change in demeanor. See Synonyms at noticeable.
2. teacher characteristics across schools provides some support for the first prediction. As in most other school districts, the teachers in higher-poverty schools in our sample have fewer years of experience than their counterparts in lower-poverty schools (11.8 years vs. 14.0 years). In comparison to their counterparts, teachers in higher-poverty schools are less likely to have credits beyond a bachelor's degree (66 percent vs. 78 percent) and are less likely to have attended the most prestigious local university (75 percent vs. 80 percent) for their undergraduate degree “First degree” redirects here. For the BBC television series, see First Degree.
An undergraduate degree (sometimes called a first degree or simply a degree . In addition, the variance The discrepancy between what a party to a lawsuit alleges will be proved in pleadings and what the party actually proves at trial.
In Zoning law, an official permit to use property in a manner that departs from the way in which other property in the same locality of our value-added measure is significantly higher within higher-poverty schools than in lower-poverty schools, even after we control for the experience level and other observable characteristics of teachers within each school, which supports the second prediction. Hence, while certainly not conclusive Determinative; beyond dispute or question. That which is conclusive is manifest, clear, or obvious. It is a legal inference made so peremptorily that it cannot be overthrown or contradicted. , the available evidence is consistent with the explanation offered above.
Our findings suggest that what parents want from school depends on the educational context in which they find themselves. In particular, in low-income schools where academic resources are scarce, motivated mo·ti·vate
tr.v. mo·ti·vat·ed, mo·ti·vat·ing, mo·ti·vates
To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.
mo parents are more likely to choose teachers based on their perceived ability to improve academic achievement. On the other hand, in higher-income schools these parents seem to respond to the relative abundance Abundance
See also Fertility.
horn horn of Zeus’s nurse-goat which became a cornucopia. [Gk. Myth.: Walsh Classical, 19]
conical receptacle which symbolizes abundance. [Rom. Myth. of academic resources by seeking out teachers who also increase student satisfaction. This may reflect a parental preference for their children to enjoy school, or it might reflect parental preferences for teachers who emphasize academic facets that increase student satisfaction but are not captured by standardized test A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  scores, such as critical thinking or curiosity.
In considering the policy implications of this research, it is important to recognize that our analysis reflects parent decisions conditional on school choice. In principle, students in this district can attend any school, although in practice the vast majority of students simply attend their neighborhood school. Because the school choice decision is quite different from the teacher choice decision, our findings do not map directly onto the school choice debate. However, the results represented here do inform other policy issues. For example, they suggest that the parents of low-income, minority, and low-achieving children are much less likely to take advantage of informal opportunities to exercise choice from among teachers. This highlights the potential adverse impacts of honoring parental requests on the equitable equitable adj. 1) just, based on fairness and not legal technicalities. 2) refers to positive remedies (orders to do something, not money damages) employed by the courts to solve disputes or give relief. (See: equity)
EQUITABLE. distribution of education resources. Our results also suggest that different socioeconomic groups are likely to react quite differently to accountability policies, such as those embodied em·bod·y
tr.v. em·bod·ied, em·bod·y·ing, em·bod·ies
1. To give a bodily form to; incarnate.
2. To represent in bodily or material form: in No Child Left Behind. In more affluent schools, parents are likely to oppose measures that increase the focus on standardized test scores at the cost of student satisfaction. More generally, programs that increase the focus on basic skills or classroom management at the expense of student enjoyment or other academic facets not measured on standardized tests are likely to be unpopular in more affluent schools.
Brian Jacob Jacob (jā`kəb), in the Bible, ancestor of the Hebrews, the younger of Isaac and Rebecca's twin sons; the older was Esau. In exchange for a bowl of lentil soup, Jacob obtained Esau's birthright and, with his mother's help, received the blessing is assistant professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government The John F. Kennedy School of Government, colloquially known as the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) or simply the Kennedy School, is a public policy school and one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. , Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. . Lars Lefgren is assistant professor of economics, Brigham Young University Brigham Young University, at Provo, Utah; Latter-Day Saints; coeducational; opened as an academy in 1875 and became a university in 1903. It is noted for its law and business schools. .
Different Strokes at Different Schools (Figure 1) If the parents of the typical child were given the choice between two teachers who differ on only one measure ... If one teacher is better able to lift student achievment, chances are greater than parents at a high-poverty school will prefer that teacher. Probability that parents will request a teacher who lifts student achievement High-poverty School 62 Low-Poverty School 51 If one teacher is better able to keep students satisfied, chances are greater that parents at a low-poverty school will prefer that teacher Probability that parents will request a teacher who keeps students satisfied High-poverty School 48 Low-poverty School 65 Note: At a "high-poverty school" 80% of the students are eligible for free lunch; at a "low-poverty school" 20% of the students are eligible for free lunch. Teacher effectiveness at lifting achievement and keeping students satisfied was determined principal ratings of the teachers. The "better" teachers received satisfaction or achievement ratings one standard deviation above district average. SOURCE: Authors' calculations Note: Table made from bar graph.