Of the 36 items included in the Gates Foundation study, the five that most correlated with student learning were very straightforward:
1. Students in this class treat the teacher with respect.
2. My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.
3. Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.
4. In this class, we learn a lot almost every day.
5. In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.
When Ferguson and Kane shared these five statements at conferences, teachers were surprised. They had typically thought it most important to care about kids, but what mattered more, according to the study, was whether teachers had control over the classroom and made it a challenging place to be. As most of us remember from our own school days, those two conditions did not always coexist: some teachers had high levels of control, but low levels of rigor.
This is the inevitable turn in these articles that just rings false to me. I can believe that teachers might not pick these out of the list of 36 off a slide during a conference session, especially if it was not emphasized that what they were talking about was specifically which items correlate to test score gains. But I can't imagine people being too deeply surprised by these factors.
These paragraphs mainly exist to flatter everyone except teachers, who are made to look like idiots.