When the world is in danger and it’s time to summon the superheroes to save the day, my six-year-old son dives into his toy bin. Just like the comic-book authors, he emerges with a diverse team of superheroes, each with a different superpower. (I’ve noticed he never chooses three Supermen or four Spidermen, for instance.) One will have awesome physical strength but lack strategic vision; one will fly or run with superhuman speed but be impulsive and irresponsible; and another will lack strength and speed but make up for it with tactical genius (often combined with some dazzling ability, such as creating a force field or reading minds). The team always prevails, as its combined strengths compensate for the weaknesses of its members.
In the largest study of instructional practice ever undertaken, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project is searching for tools to save the world from perfunctory teacher evaluations. In our first report (released in December 2010), we described the potential usefulness of student surveys for providing feedback to teachers. For our second report, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) scored 7,500 lesson videos for 1,333 teachers in six school districts using five different classroom-observation instruments. We compared those data against student achievement gains on state tests, gains on supplemental tests, and surveys from more than 44,500 students.