Response to M.DeArmond and Dan Goldhaber article, “The Back Office A Neglected Side of Teacher Quality. Education Week.Feb.9,2005.pp 31 and 32.

This article cited our Urban Teacher Selection Interview and stated, “Beyond the claims of those marketing them (referring to these interview) we know of no empirical evidence about whether these instruments are effective, or how widely they are used. …The problem is that we just don’t know if they (referring to these interviews) work or not”. The writers are to be complimented for their honesty in stating they are unaware of how widely our interview is used. It is also understandable for them to assume we market.

Let me begin by explaining that we have a non-profit foundation whose purpose is to help school districts secure the most effective teachers, principals and superintendents for diverse children and youth in poverty. By law we make certain there are no profits by also training school districts who are bankrupt (or close to it) to use our interviews at no cost. The fact that we do no marketing, spend no funds on marketing and have no employees who market is of critical importance given the next fact. School districts inform each other. To date, over 200 school districts have sought us out to learn to use our teacher selection interview. Given the annual hiring rates in these districts I estimate that over 40,000 teachers are hired annually with the help of this interview. It is noteworthy that the districts vary in their use of the interview. Some use it centrally then send candidates out to schools for principals to make the final selection. Some districts train their principals to use the interview before the district will hire them. In several districts we have trained parents and school board members to be part of the interview teams. The obvious question then is, “Why would so many school districts simply tell other school districts about our interview? The reason we have no need to market is that once a district is trained to use our interview they find they get teachers who stay and who are effective with the students.

Nine doctoral dissertations have been completed which not only support the validity of the interview but extend its power; for example, they find that interviewees who score high have fewer discipline problems in elementary and secondary schools, or suspend fewer students. One dissertation produced null results. There are currently several dissertations in process.

In two schools, one serving Latino youngsters in the Houston area and one serving African American students in Buffalo we were able to reconstitute entire school staffs using the interview to select veteran as well as beginning teachers. In both cases, failing schools made significant achievement gains and were “turned around” in one year. In both cases these schools also had principals who passed our Urban Principal Selection Interview. I cite these few items and not my own forty five years of researching this interview because my results would be considered “self serving”.

Finally, I would make the same offer to the authors that we make to all school districts. “Prove the power of our interview to predict! Select any failing school in your district and allow us to reconstitute the staff with teachers who pass our interview. If we cannot do this then we will refund any training costs and take out an ad in Education Week making a public apology and sharing the results of how we failed in your school.” I would be especially pleased to do these trials in Houston or in any school district selected by the authors. Martin Haberman, Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

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