Tuesday, December 20, 2016

As matter of public policy, we assume that the quality/capability of inputs to the education process (students) is unrelated to the outcomes

From Education and Intelligence: Pity the Poor Teacher because Student Characteristics are more Significant than Teachers or Schools. by D.K. Detterman. From the abstratc:
Education has not changed from the beginning of recorded history. The problem is that focus has been on schools and teachers and not students. Here is a simple thought experiment with two conditions: 1) 50 teachers are assigned by their teaching quality to randomly composed classes of 20 students, 2) 50 classes of 20 each are composed by selecting the most able students to fill each class in order and teachers are assigned randomly to classes. In condition 1, teaching ability of each teacher and in condition 2, mean ability level of students in each class is correlated with average gain over the course of instruction. Educational gain will be best predicted by student abilities (up to r = 0.95) and much less by teachers' skill (up to r = 0.32). I argue that seemingly immutable education will not change until we fully understand students and particularly human intelligence. Over the last 50 years in developed countries, evidence has accumulated that only about 10% of school achievement can be attributed to schools and teachers while the remaining 90% is due to characteristics associated with students. Teachers account for from 1% to 7% of total variance at every level of education. For students, intelligence accounts for much of the 90% of variance associated with learning gains. This evidence is reviewed.
I agree with the conclusion, but am not sure, without seeing the data, whether this research supports the position.

However, it does prompt the thought that the education process is one of the only processes where, as a matter of public policy, we take the position that the quality/capability of the inputs (students) has nothing to do with the quality of the outcomes.

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