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Research Developments from ACER

Early Childhood

Breaking the link between disadvantage and development

A wealth of research on teaching quality exists but it remains largely unused by those who could benefit most from its findings – teachers. Are there ways to better translate the findings from research? Dan Cloney explains.

Why measure teacher effectiveness and not just outcomes?

‘Success’ or ‘failure’ in the education system has traditionally been measured by comparing student outcomes with set standards at various school grades or ages. There are serious limitations to this method.

Research shows that children from advantaged backgrounds tend to get access to higher quality teaching, as well as higher quality investments in their learning and development from other sources; for example, higher quality home learning environments. Using student outcomes alone as a measure of success not only fails to account for the many other variables at play but treats pedagogy as an unobserved phenomenon, yielding no useful information about what effective teachers do to produce better student results.

Measuring teaching quality produces evidence not just about what practices work, but also on what those practices look like in action.

Why does this matter?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4.1 and 4.2 represents a global focus on improving access to high quality education to ensure all children have the best start in life. Exposure to high quality learning early has a lifelong impact. The ACER Centre for Global Education Monitoring is committed to supporting all countries to achieve SDG 4.1. and 4.2.

While a huge body of quantitative research into educator-student interactions exists, much of it exhibits psychometric limitations and little of it is applied to the professional learning and development of the people who would find it the most useful – teachers. Finding ways to better leverage this research will help educators make effective and impactful improvements to teaching practices and help ECEC programs to achieve their potential to narrow the gaps created by social inequality. ■

Find out more:
Dr Cloney will be speaking in more detail about breaking the link between disadvantage and development in early childhood at Research Conference 2018 in August.


About the author

Dr Dan Cloney is a Senior Research Fellow in ACER's Teaching, Learning and Leadership research program.

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View selected works of Dan Cloney

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