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Peter Greene poses a question in this post. If poor children get low test scores, does that mean that all those who teach poor children are bad teachers?
Peter is always funny in the way he presents the “a-ha!” moments in educational research, which are usually either obvious or dumb. Here he looks at a study in Education Next that considered a teacher evaluation program in Chicago. It worked best for the reading scores of advantaged children. It had zero effect on the reading scores of impoverished children. One conclusion might be that poverty matters. But the researchers instead reach a different conclusion.
“Even though the data points to poverty as the big flashing neon sign of “Hey, here it is!” Steinberg and Sartain walk right past the blinking brightness to select again the teachers and principals as the cause. This is not so much mis-reading data as simply ignoring it. I’m not sure why they bothered with the big long article. They could have just typed, one more time, “Poor students do worse on standardized tests, therefor we conclude that the only possible explanation is that all the bad teachers in the world teach in high-poverty schools.” Also, I’ve noticed that whenever a building is on fire, there are firefighters there with big red trucks, so if you never want your building to burn down, keep firefighters and big red trucks away.