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Instructional Quality

"There is growing evidence that students are most motivated when teachers are strong on all three legs of the instructional tripod: content knowledge, pedagogic skills, and relationship skills...Teachers differ a great deal in their effectiveness. The evidence is clear that some teachers produce much larger achievement gains than others do and that differences in teacher effectiveness tend to persist from year to year in the absence of effective professional development." Toward Excellence with Equity, 2007, Ronald Ferguson




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AGI Projects on Instructional Quality

Value-Added Implications of Special Education Inclusion: This project used data from the Massachusetts State Department of Education to construct student level value-added measures. The test score and student background data were from the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) for 8th and 10th graders. For the special education project, individual-level estimates for reading and mathematics were aggregated to the school level for students who received special education services during their 8th grade school year. In addition, value-added estimates were compiled for each school as a whole. The latter were used to identify schools for the project on exemplary high schools. The AGI is compiling a report examining whether students with equal MCAS scores and the same special education status at the end of 8th experience greater achievement growth by the end of 10th grade if they attend high schools that practice inclusion. The report will supplement statistical findings with qualitative data from schools that practice different degrees of inclusion.

Instructional Leadership: These projects build upon the value added work. For example, the June 2009 annual AGI conference featured sixteen high schools, including eight from Massachusetts, making exemplary progress at raising student achievement. A 200-page conference report distills the presentations and draws implications for instructional leaders. The report was featured in a front page story in the New York Times on September 27, 2010 and has received attention through a number of other news outlets. It is available in hard copy and can also be downloaded from the AGI web site. Communication from school officials from around the U.S. indicates that they are finding it helpful. The AGI is building on the exemplary high schools report by analyzing how value-added and gap-narrowing patterns in MA schools relate to teacher responses concerning their working conditions. The data come from a survey administered to teachers state-wide in the spring of 2012 by the New Teacher Center (NTC).

Measures of Teaching Effectiveness: States and districts around the nation are seeking multiple measures of teaching effectiveness for both accountability and school improvement purposes. The AGI is working with the Tripod Project for School Improvement and a number of partners to construct teacher quality measures from student survey responses. These measures were used in research on predictors of student learning gains. Recent reports from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation show that Tripod Project measures of teaching effectiveness help predict student learning gains. The MET reports can be downloaded from This work was also reported on in the December 11, 2010 issue of the New York Times. The Tripod surveys have attracted a great deal of attention from education policy makers as one way of helping to fulfill this need. To support the field in this work, the AGI is conducting statistical analyses on the various issues that the Tripod survey assessments address.

Early Career Supervision: Students at HGSE and HKS who have been former teachers, many with Teach for America, arrive each fall with mixed reviews of the supervision they received in their first teaching jobs. In response, the AGI has collaborated with students to produce a survey to document their experience being supervised as beginning teachers. The survey will be used nationally in collaboration with both Teach for America and the American Federation of Teachers. Results will inform a report with advice to school administrators who supervise teachers at the beginning of their careers.

In 2008, the AGI published its first research report based on the June 2008 Research-to-Practice conference "GETTING IT DONE: Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps in Whole School Systems: Recent Advances in Research and Practice".

In 2009, the AGI published its second research report based on the June 2009 Research-to-Practice conference "Why Teachers Improve (and How): High School Supervision and Professional Community Toward Excellence with Equity"