May 1, 2019


"Effect Size" Metrics Used for Teacher Negotiation Purposes
Dr. Don White, Mokena District 159 Superintendent, and I are leading a new ISBE-approved academy titled "Evidence-Based Leadership" (AA 3020). We were very impressed with the work done by school administrators at our first session, held in Mt Vernon last week.
On my drive home from the academy, I was thinking about how else leaders could use the concept of "effect size." Recently a school district settled its teacher contract and, according to the newspaper, one of the sticking points was class size. The district had encountered some financial problems and had decreased certified staff at the same time that enrollment was increasing. Of course, this led to increased class size at all grade levels.
The teachers had been attending school board meetings in mass for several months to protest the working environment, especially class size. While preparing to teach this academy I have learned how to calculate effect size. I have also learned where and how to obtain research-based metrics to determine how student achievement and student growth are increased. Due to these newly developed skills I would ask the teacher leaders the following questions. How will decreasing class size increase student achievement and student growth? What research are you using that backs your demand for decreasing class size? What do you expect to be the results from decreasing class size and how will you measure the return on investment?
These questions may be received by the teacher union as not relevant to the negotiation's discussion. However, I think these types of questions are very relevant for "Evidence-Based Leadership." If we as school leaders are using these questions on a regular basis, everybody in the organization should be used to providing the answers before they suggest any solutions.
Another example of using evidence-based leadership questions occurred recently when I was working with a school district on strategic planning. One of the principals suggested that her school receive additional funding for those particular students to attend 40 more days of instruction than the other elementary schools. Her school was by far the lowest academic performing school in a highly performing school district. Her school was located in a low-income neighborhood.
The first place to start when considering decisions to change practice or policy is to research possible solutions to determine if the solution will even work. In this case, the principal could have looked at research from Hattie and determine the effect size of similar strategies from other education studies. In this example, the principal would have determined that the effect size for more summer instruction is 0.23. Hattie uses an effect size of 0.40 as the mark for recommending the strategy. The new Illinois EBM research used the effect size of 0.25.
Let's say the district decided to approve this strategy. The leader needs to determine what are the expected outcomes for the students to attend 40 more days of school. Let's say the leader determines that the student academic achievement and/or student growth for the experimental group (the group attending school 40 more days) would be higher than the control group (those students not receiving the 40 additional days of instruction). "Higher" in this context means that the experimental group's achievement or growth score would result in an effect size of 0.40 or greater.
Each group would be pre-assessed at the end of their existing school year. Each group would then be assessed at the end of the next school year and the district could compare the "effect size" change in student achievement or student growth to determine if the cost was worth the return.
Strategic leadership is choosing what to measure. Evidence-based practice is measuring your progress and the impact of your decisions. The strategic indicators that are chosen should be research-based positive strategies. Next, the expected outcomes need to be determined. Finally, strategic leadership and evidence-based practice are about measuring progress toward the future the leaders are trying to create.
Here are Three Simple Things that We Can All Start Doing Today that Will Make Us Notably Happier, Healthier and More Successful
I read this interesting article by Elizabeth Yuko, "3 things it's not too late to start that will make you happier, healthier and more successful." It reminded me of what I attempt to tell participants in my wellness academy, that it is not too late to start to form a new habit. I think "habit" is the key word in changing behavior. We have to develop a habit in order to change our past behavior into a better behavior.
Individuals often ask me how long I have been running and how I can continue this routine. As an athlete I did not enjoy running. I just enjoyed playing. But as an adult I gained 40+ pounds following my graduation from college, and I did not like the look of the person staring back at me in the mirror. This is when I started to run. It was not easy at first, but I continued a daily routine and soon was competing in 5K races, then half marathons and then marathons. I remember that for several decades I was running more than 50 miles per week.
One time when I visited with my parents, my mother asked me if I was sick. I think she was afraid I had cancer. At that time, I weighed 145 pounds, down from the 240 pounds I had weighed in the above-mentioned college graduation story.
The point is that I had formed a habit to run. That was 45 years ago. To this day I run almost every day (average about one day off per month) and it is part of my routine. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and my running and other exercise routine is always done in the morning. The reason I do my exercising in the morning is that the only excuse to not exercise is to turn the alarm clock off and go back to sleep. I never do that.
The three tips in the article are 1) start exercising even if you haven't been, 2) start prioritizing your sleep, and 3) start a daily gratitude practice. In my life these three have made me happier, healthier and successful. Try it!
For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
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