With all the Higgs Boson excitement, I have had physics on the brain lately. Thus when Instapundit linked to this article from NPR, regarding how Einstein would not have been qualified to teach high school physics, I was intrigued.
The article is a rant against (some) licensing standards. Licensing standards are really just performance metrics, which does make them an interesting study in data and outcomes. Teaching is a particularly tricky profession to measure outcomes in, as every attempt to standardize (SATs, MCAS, etc) is typically met with objections about what real learning is.
I was fascinated by the Einstein question though. While I certainly like Einstein, I was wondering if I’d really have wanted him as a physics teacher. When I took psych stats in grad school, I averaged 107% in the class (there was lots of extra credit), but I was probably the worst resource there. I can’t explain basic stats worth anything to people, because it comes naturally. That’s why I like critiquing news stories….it’s much easier to explain what’s wrong with something when you have an example in front of you. Explaining a t-test from scratch though? I’ll leave that to the professionals.
Aside from that, the study the NPR post points to is pretty interesting. It compares licensed, unlicensed and alternatively credentialed teachers from NYC. Interestingly, the most significant factor in teacher effectiveness tended to be years of experience (in the first few years) instead of credentialing. All the differences however, were evaluated based on standardized testing scores, which may or may not be something you agree with as a metric. Still, a fairly interesting and comprehensive look at the issue, if your interested in education metrics.
Update: The purpose of education and outcome metrics are going to become increasingly important if this catches on (and I hope it does).