Thursday, July 31, 2014

The (Non)Predictive Ability of the Gallup TeacherInsight Assessment

Gallup states that the TeacherInsight (TI) assessments have "been thoroughly researched and tested to be sure they identify potentially superior teachers." While it is to be expected that the company marketing the TI assessment would make such a statement, is there any independent support for the predictive ability of the TI assessment?

Establishing the predictive validity of an assessment usually requires that applicants who "pass" the assessment perform satisfactorily in practice, and those who do not pass do not perform satisfactorily in practice. The challenge with assessing the predictive validity of the TI assessment, however, is that teacher applicants who do not meet the cutoff score may not be hired. Consequently, support for the predictive validity of the TI assessment is determined by carefully documenting the evidence from teachers who “pass,” through correlational and regression analyses that compare performance on the target measure, TI scores, with one or more other measures.

Doctoral dissertations by Robert Jacob Koerner and Michael T. Novotny are two of the few independent, published research studies to examine the predictive validity of the TeacherInsight (TI) assessment:  that teachers who score higher on it will be more successful teachers.

Novotny Study

The Novotny study involved 527 teachers hired into a North Texas school district for the 2006-2007 school year. The study analyzed the relationships between the TI assessment scores and the eight Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS) domain scores for those teachers. PDAS is the instrument used by the State of Texas for appraising its teachers and identifying areas that would benefit from staff development.

The Novotny study concluded that:
The TeacherInsight scores produced a statistically significant correlation with only one of the eight PDAS domain scores. However, even that correlation (r = 0.14) was weak. ... The findings do not support the ability of the TeacherInsight to identify more effective teachers, based on Professional Development Appraisal System scores. 
Koerner Study

The Koerner study examined the relationship between the TI assessment and student achievement as measured by the Texas Growth Instrument (TGI), which is an estimate of a student’s academic growth based on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TASK) scores for two consecutive years.More specifically, the study focused on the predictive validity of the TI assessment, that is, how well teacher TI scores predict student achievement gains, as measured by the TGI in reading, English language arts, and mathematics at the primary and secondary school levels. Participants in the study were 132 teachers from one Texas school district who taught reading, English language arts, or mathematics in Grades 3–11 during the 2005–2006 school year and had taken the online TI assessment.

According to Koerner:
The findings [of his study] provide little support to the validity of TeacherInsight in terms of its ability to predict student achievement scores and its usefulness as a tool for the selection of teachers by school systems. 
Wasting Resources, Eliminating Good Teachers

Both the Koerner and Novotny studies found statistically significant, but very weak, relationships with a small number of variables related to teacher success. Those very low correlations suggest a weak link at best between the TI assessment and student achievement and teacher effectiveness.

As Novotny states in the introduction to his study:
It is critical that schools and districts identify highly effective, highly qualified teachers to raise student achievement. School districts have limited resources such as time, money, and manpower to achieve this task. If standardized interview tools such as the TI are effective at identifying better teachers, the time and money spent on them are worthwhile. However, if these tools are not effective, then the time and money spent could be better utilized elsewhere. Furthermore, if the TI does not effectively identify better teachers it could be preventing good candidates from being hired or from being accepted into alternative certification programs.
Not only are there concerns that the TI assessment may waste resources and screen out good candidates, as set out in Systemic Risks for School Systems Employing TeacherInsight, the use of the TI assessment may also violate the non-discrimination provisions of labor and employment laws like Title VII and the ADA that are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Should teachers, teacher educators, and professional teacher organizations passively accept the increasingly pivotal role of online assessment tools in the hiring process, or should they press for more research and a balanced selection process that includes multiples sources of information,including human interaction?

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