Teacher Quality

Who Enters Teaching? Encouraging Evidence that the Status of Teaching is Improving

The relatively low status of teaching as a profession is often given as a factor contributing to the difficulty of recruiting teachers, the middling performance of American students on international assessments, and the well-documented decline in the relative academic ability of teachers through the 1990s. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, a number of federal, state, and local teacher accountability policies have been implemented toward improving teacher quality over the objections of some who argue the policies will decrease quality.

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City

Tenure is intended to protect teachers with demonstrated teaching skills against arbitrary or capricious dismissal. Critics of typical tenure processes argue that tenure assessments are superficial and rarely discern whether teachers in fact have the requisite teaching skills. A recent reform of the tenure process in New York City provides an unusual opportunity to learn about the role of tenure in teachers’ career outcomes. We find the reform led to many fewer teachers receiving tenure.

Teachers' Preferences to Teach Underserved Students

To increase the supply of teachers into underserved schools, teacher educators and policymakers commonly use two approaches: (a) recruit individuals who already report strong preferences to work in underserved schools or (b) design pre-service preparation to increase preferences. Using survey and administrative data on more than 1,000 teachers in a large, urban district, this study provides some of the first district-level evidence for both approaches. Individuals with stronger underserved preferences and teachers of color were more likely to enter underserved schools.

Recruitment or Preparation? Investigating the Effects of Teacher Characteristics and Student Teaching

Some believe the solution to improving instructional quality in K-12 schools lies in identifying and recruiting certain kinds of individuals to the profession (e.g., academically talented, stronger commitment). Others believe that talented or committed individuals cannot become effective or enduring teachers without adequate preparation. Most prior literature examines either recruitment or preparation, rather than weighing evidence for both simultaneously.

Playing to Teachers' Strengths: Using multiple measures of teacher effectiveness to improve teacher assignments

Current uses of value-added modeling largely ignore or assume away the potential for teachers to be more effective with one type of student than another or in one subject than another. This paper explores the stability of value-added measures across different subgroups and subjects using administrative data from a large urban school district. For elementary school teachers, effectiveness measures are highly stable across subgroups, with correlations upwards of 0.9.

Learning that Lasts: Understanding Variation in Teachers' Effects on Students' Long-Term Knowledge

Measures of teachers’ “value added” to students’ current test performance feature prominently in ongoing reforms to teacher evaluation systems. However, this immediate effect may not capture teachers’ more meaningful longer-term impact on student learning. Set in New York City, this study investigates the persistence of teachers’ effects. Two findings emerge. First, a teacher’s effect on students’ English Language Arts achievement has substantial crossover effects on long-term math performance.

Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT

Teachers in the United States are compensated largely on the basis of fixed schedules that reward experience and credentials. However, there is a growing interest in whether performance-based incentives based on rigorous teacher evaluations can improve teacher retention and performance. The evidence available to date has been mixed at best. This study presents novel evidence on this topic based on IMPACT, the controversial teacher-evaluation system introduced in the District of Columbia Public Schools by then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

What Can Parents Tell Us About Teacher Quality? Examining the Contributions of Parent Perspectives in Comparison to a Portfolio of Alternative Teacher Evaluation Measures

Parent perspectives about their children’s K-12 teachers have received increased attention in recent years as a potential performance measure for use in teacher evaluation systems. Parent evaluations of teachers may be valuable both because they may identify and provide feedback regarding important teacher contributions that support parent involvement in schooling, and because they may inform the assessment of teacher quality more broadly.

Staffing for Success: Linking Teacher Evaluation and School Personnel Management in Practice

Teacher evaluation is at the center of current education policy reform. Most evaluation systems rely at least in part on principals’ assessments of teachers, and their discretionary judgments carry substantial weight. However, we know relatively little about what they value when determining evaluations and high stakes personnel decisions. Using unique data from an independently managed public charter school district, I explore the extent to which autonomous school administrators’ formative evaluations of teachers predict a variety of future personnel decisions.

Do First Impressions Matter? Improvement in Early Career Teacher Effectiveness

Educational policymakers struggle to find ways to improve the quality of the teacher workforce. The early career period represents a unique opportunity to identify struggling teachers, examine the likelihood of future improvement, and make strategic pre-tenure investments in improvement as well as dismissals to increase teaching quality. To date, only a little is known about the dynamics of teacher performance in the first five years.