Summary of the project
There are some undesirable trends with respect to the basic skills of Dutch students (Expert Group Continuous Learning Lines, 2008). In order to raise pupil achievement in language and mathematics, schools and their teachers are expected to work more result-oriented (Educational Inspectorate, 2010). In 2008 the Expert Group Continuous Learning Lines (EGDLL) set up a system in which performance standards are set to promote a continuous learning line between primary school and secondary educational tracks (EGDLL, 2008). Performance standards are clear descriptions and examples of what children should master at different grade levels. They define levels of student achievement that are considered acceptable or outstanding (Linn & Baker, 1995, p.405; Lauer e.a., 2005). Stating explicit goals is expected to improve children’s achievements, because they make clear what is expected from children and when these expectations are to be met (Ravitch, 1995). In this sense they are connected to high teacher expectations, that have a positive effect on student learning (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000; Sammons e.a., 1995).
There is not much known about the effectiveness of standards for school improvement. Lauer (2005) showed that standard-based curricula in the United States indeed lead to positive effects on student achievement, but he stresses that the implementation of working with standards in classroom is not straightforward. It is not enough to set goals and see whether they have been reached: teachers need to have a training to change their teaching behavior (Lauer, 2005; see also Roeber, 1999).
The current project consists of a teacher training based on three components: setting and working with performance standards, data-driven teaching and an instructional component. The combination of the three components is supposed to improve teacher instruction in classroom. This is supposed to lead to better student achievement, since instructional improvement positively affects pupil scores (Hattie, 2003; Hattie, 2007).
Current status of the project: The teacher training of the schoolyear 2010-2011 is in progress. The experimental group consists of five schools that are located in the north of The Netherlands, with 19 teachers of grade 2 and 3 participating. Achievement data in the experimental group are collected from approximately 250 pupils. From the control schools, there will be data from 90 schools. Teacher data are collected by means of a questionnaire, observations and an in-depth interview. Data will be analyzed by means of a multilevel approach.
In 2011/2012 another, comparable teacher training will take place within diferent schools.