Hillsborough joins another Gates study to videotape teachers
TAMPA -- The Hillsborough County school district is already on the brink of winning a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a cutting-edge merit pay and teacher evaluation program.
Now the district has been chosen to join a second study that uses video in the classroom to measure teacher effectiveness.
The Measures of Effective Teaching project will ask 3,700 teachers in Hillsborough and five other urban districts to volunteer for a two-year study that looks closely at the attributes of good teaching, said senior program officer Steve Cantrell.
Teachers will be videotaped in their classrooms eight times over the next two years. And those tapes will be rated against four commonly used teacher evaluation rubrics, he said.
As part of the study, students will be given supplemental tests that dig deeper into content areas already included on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Such questions will be "more cognitively demanding, (with) deeper thinking around fewer items," Cantrell said.
Teachers will also be tested on their knowledge of the subject area, with a focus on rating their ability to respond correctly to student misperceptions and questions.
Teachers who volunteer for the project will receive a $1,500 stipend, as will participating schools, said David Steele, Hillsborough's chief information officer. Between 700 and 1,000 district teachers are expected to participate, he said.
The district will likely have to gain parent consent to have students videotaped with cameras that provide a 360-degree view of the classroom, Steele said.
Under program guidelines, those tapes would be used only for research, with "full confidentiality" provided to teachers, according to a memo written by New York schools chancellor Joel Klein and the teachers' union there.
Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia said the district was happy to join the new Gates effort.
"This is a program we’re thrilled to be part of," she said, emphasizing its voluntary nature. "We feel that this is a great opportunity."
-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer