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Title page for ETD etd-04192016-171211

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Guthrie, James Edward
Author's Email Address j.edward.guthrie@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-04192016-171211
Title Three Studies on the Dynamics of Teacher and School Effectiveness
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary T. Henry, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Jason A. Grissom, Ph.D. Committee Member
Joseph F. Murphy, Ph.D. Committee Member
Joseph L. Rodgers, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • school effectiveness
  • teacher effectiveness
  • Education policy
Date of Defense 2016-03-18
Availability unrestricted
The following dissertation consists of three studies, demarcated as chapters, seeking to advance the use of longitudinal data in the measurement and evaluation of the dynamics K-12 teacher and school effectiveness, each using distinct quantitative methodologies. The first chapter employs a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the effects of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s school turnaround program on student academic outcomes. Separate analyses by levels of schooling (i.e. elementary, middle, and secondary) and outcome measures reveal potential heterogeneity in the response to intervention and underscores the necessity of multifaceted approaches and nuanced reporting in the evaluation of broad, multiyear education reform initiatives. The second chapter analyzes the potential effects of performance-based teacher retention reform using the statistical framework of diagnostic accuracy to evaluate such policies in their ability to correctly predict future teacher performance. This approach offers new metrics for the consideration of retention reform’s consequences, both intended and unintended, and highlights the limitations natural teacher churn imposes on such reforms, as well as the potential benefits of using multiple measures of teacher performance to more accurately predict teachers’ future performance. The third chapter considers how student achievement gains are distributed within teachers’ classrooms as a way of comparing teacher performance and understanding teacher improvement. Specifically, it examines how the mean, variance, and skewness of the distribution of individual student learning gains change with teacher experience, across grades and subjects, and between teachers at varying levels of estimated effectiveness. Notable among the study’s findings is that the distribution of student learning gains and the dynamics of teacher improvement demonstrate patterns for teachers of English-Language Arts (ELA) distinct from that of teachers of mathematics and science, with more experienced ELA teachers reducing the variance in their students’ learning gains in ways not reflected by analysis of mean learning gains over time.

Taken together, the chapters take three distinct methodological approaches to longitudinal education data and span a range of research goals, from the exploration of the dynamics of how the distribution of individual student learning gains are distributed within classrooms, to the development of more efficient performance-based teacher retention measures, to the evaluation of the efficacy of a state-led school turnaround initiative. Within each, contextual knowledge of an unsettled policy debate is used to advance the measures and methods used to evaluate the dynamics of K-12 teacher and school effectiveness.

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