Keeping the fires burning: How do YOU respond when an educator claims teacher effectiveness is stalled?

Aloha! You’re reading this because you care about great teaching. You revel in unlocking a student’s potential and inspiring him or her to soar. And – as a professional – you’re committed to helping all practitioners refine the practices that drive student success.

Sadly, though, that desire to collaborate on unlocking excellence often gets derailed when the conversation focuses instead on conflict or provocation. How do we rise above that noise and redirect attention to the belief that every child can learn when instruction meets his or her needs?

In a recent article on — Tenure haters’ big delusion: Why Campbell Brown and co. are wrong about teaching — one professor of teaching contends that teachers have only a minimal impact on student achievement. Author Gabriel Arana quotes Audrey Beardsley, an associate professor at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, as saying: “(C)urrent research suggests … that teachers only truly impact about 10-20 percent of student achievement.”

What are we conveying to our teachers when we suggest that 80 to 90 percent of their efforts will fail — that external factors such as poverty or language barriers are insurmountable? With those odds, why would anyone bother to become a teacher?

One of Performance Fact’s goals for our blog called Musings — indeed, for all of our communications — is to engage you, our valued clients and professional colleagues, in a lively discussion around pressing education topics. And so we ask, dear reader: When you encounter an educator who appears to have thrown in the towel, how do YOU respond? Please email us here, and we’ll share your ideas in a future issue of Think. Believe. Move Mountains.

I don’t know Dr. Beardsley, but I’ll assume her opinions are based on her experiences, intelligence and research. And, of course, I don’t know whether her words were accurate, or were taken out of context to achieve a provocative article.

Either way, I’d love to engage her further, asking her: “As an educator, how do you feel about that statistic, that just 20 percent of your students — 4 children in every class of 20 —will succeed?” And if 4 of 20 is indeed the average, I’d ask her to picture a teacher she’s known who’s achieved fewer than 4 successes and another who’s achieved more than 4. I’d then ask: “If the 20 students are the same 20 — same parents, same home situations, same language backgrounds — how is it possible that some teachers see success in only 3 while others effectively reach 5 or 9 or 13? Mustn’t we conclude that the teacher with the better results is doing things differently than the less effective teacher is? And how much do we know about the methods of the more effective teacher, or about the unique challenges that the ‘struggling’ teacher might be facing at this time?”

Dr. Beardsley, if you’re reading this, please know that I would welcome your call or email so that we can continue this conversation. And thank you, all who are reading this blog, for your efforts on behalf of all students!

— Mutiu O. Fagbayi

Have an opinion on this topic? Use the link above to weigh in.  

January 2015

Expanding to better serve you:

Experience Performance Fact’s ‘presence’ 24/7 with our fully online tools!

We at Performance Fact are proud to unveil our updated school improvement system, one that will allow exponentially more facilitators to collaborate with far more schools than ever before in developing capable leaders, strengthening professional practices, and achieving extraordinary student results.

Since 1997, guided by the belief and evidence that all students will learn at high levels when instruction meets their needs, Performance Fact has worked with more than 80 school systems in more than 10 U.S. states. Together, these districts educate about 1 million students every day in more than 1,700 schools. Internationally, Performance Fact works with leaders and practitioners in about 50 schools serving approximately 23,000 pupils.

Now, with the long-awaited debut of a fully online version of Eye on the Goal™, our flagship school improvement system, our expanded team of professionals will be reaching dramatically more teachers and students. And clients will enjoy the “presence” of Performance Fact 24/7 — allowing you to accelerate progress between physical meetings, conference calls and coaching sessions.

We’re also “coming out of our shell” with a revamped public presence. The new closely reflects our focus of the last several years, including samples of professional services to our growing client base.  Complementing our public site will be the subscription-only Eye on the Goal™ online tools.

Additional highlights of the new Performance Fact:

  • Expanded team of outstanding professionals. Our team of passionate, highly qualified facilitators and coaches is committed to the beliefs and practices necessary to ensure that every child succeeds. In coming issues, we’ll introduce you in greater depth to these inspiring educators.
  • Monthly e-newsletter. Think. Believe. Move Mountains. is designed to renew our valued connections with all of you, to encourage interactive conversations about current topics that matter to all of us, and to highlight Performance Fact’s services. Key features will include a blog called Musings, plus a quick survey on relevant issues and practices — results of which we’ll share with you. Think. Believe. Move Mountains. also will highlight practices, innovations and results across our connected professional community.
  • Expanded outreach to more clients. In the coming months, we’ll be actively seeking your help in expanding opportunities to collaborate with your valued colleagues and other educators.

We want to take a moment to thank all of you, dear colleagues, for your trust, friendship and commitment. Performance Fact would not be where it is today without the encouragement and dedication of so many of you.

We continue to welcome your questions, ideas and other feedback. Looking forward to hearing from you!