Data Mining

The Quality Counts 2008 Report is out, and Missouri didn't finish in the top tier. No surprise there.

One interesting question deep down in the report was whether a teacher had an identifying tracking number assigned (yes). Another was whether Missouri links teacher and student records by course/subject and assessment results (no). These questions were in between ones on teacher pay parity, mentor teachers and other traditional teacher quality questions. Mmm....

❝The day is not far off, teacher-quality advocates say, when a host of professional and policy decisions could be informed by analysis of data from thousands of teachers and students observed over time. Such longitudinal data allow researchers to measure changes in student achievement—and to link them with teacher characteristics.❞

Ah, a researcher's dream and a privacy advocate's nightmare.

❝For instance, teacher-preparation programs could be slated for overhauls—or not—depending on how well their graduates perform. Or state policies could reflect new knowledge about which qualifications indicate teacher effectiveness.❞

I already think teacher ed programs need overhauling, but research showing what works is always helpful.

❝While such systems have the potential to yield rich information on differences that affect student learning, they also raise a thorny question: Might teachers be ranked, assigned, or fired on the basis of such data?❞

The idea is to focus on student achievement instead of teachers, but in this day of accountability I don't believe that would really happen. As a researcher wanna-be, though, I see so much potential...