North Carolina teachers with higher effectiveness ratings prior to the disruptions of the 2020-21 COVID-19 school year helped mitigate learning loss as students and teachers managed remote instruction, hybrid learning and other responses to the pandemic, a new analysis of student outcomes shows.
A whitepaper report released today by the Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) found that students scored better on the state’s End-of-Grade and End-of-Course exams during the 2020-21 school year if their teachers had in past years shown strong student outcomes.
The new research study was prompted by questions from school leaders and other educators in school districts across the state who requested an analysis focusing on teacher and principal effectiveness and longevity as possible factors affecting student learning during the pandemic.
The latest report builds on an initial OLR report, issued in March 2022, that showed students made less progress, on average, than students in the same grades and courses in previous years. To understand the impact of the pandemic on student learning, the report compared students’ projected 2020-21 school year scores on state End-of-Grade and End-of-Course exams with their actual scores for that school year.
The new analysis also weighed the longevity of teachers in their same schools both before and during the pandemic as a potential factor affecting student outcomes, but the report found longevity less consequential than effectiveness, as measured by student test scores. The report also considered as factors principal effectiveness and longevity but concluded that neither had a consistent impact on student learning.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said that the latest findings from the state’s learning loss data underscore the value of measuring teacher effectiveness and its impact on student achievement.
“We know from our lost instructional time reporting that years of experience are meaningful,” Truitt said, “but knowing if teachers are effective – measured by results with their students – is more meaningful. The findings from this report are important, as it gives us data that will be used to guide our work and guide decision-making as it impacts student success.”
Truitt said that while the findings from the new report are based on the EVAAS analysis of student test scores, efforts to identify and develop other measures of teacher effectiveness are underway as part of the proposed overhaul of the state’s licensing and compensation system.
For more than a decade, North Carolina has relied on a statistical tool known as EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) from Cary-based SAS Institute to help measure the effectiveness of districts, school, principals, and teachers. Based on the progress that students demonstrate during a given year, schools and educators receive one of three designations: does not meet expected growth, meets expected growth or exceeds expected growth. The expectation of growth is always based on the statewide average of progress for students in a given academic year.
Among the report’s findings on teacher effectiveness are these:
- During the 2020-21 school year, on average, there was less negative impact observed among students linked to teachers who were identified as effective prior to the pandemic.
- Results show negative impacts were mitigated for students whose teachers were identified as meeting or exceeding expected growth across all tested subjects and especially for reading in grade 4, math in grades 5 and 6, Math 3 in high school and science grade 5.
- Pre-pandemic teaching effectiveness did not appear to mitigate negative impacts in reading in grades 7 or 8.
Dr. Jeni Corn, director of research and evaluation in the Office of Learning Recovery and Evaluation, said that the report findings could help school leaders in deciding the placement of teachers.
“District and school leaders should consider placing their best, not necessarily most experienced, teachers where they can have the most impact, including early grades reading and middle grades math and science.”
By contrast, the report concluded that longevity in schools had only slight impact on student test outcomes for teachers who had been in their school for one to three years, particularly in fourth grade reading, fifth grade math and fifth grade science. Smaller differences were reported for teachers with more years in their schools.
“Overall, very little difference was observed in student performance during the pandemic when comparing their teachers’ longevity at their schools for teachers serving 4-7 years or 8 or more years,” the report said.
Neither principal effectiveness, as measured by school-wide test scores, nor longevity in the school had significant impact on mitigating learning loss resulting from the pandemic.