Should we evaluate teacher performance?
Yes. We should consider tying teacher compensation to productivity as measured by students’ performance or supervisor evaluations. However, we should never focus exclusively on teacher evaluations without also including administrator evaluations. It is essential to evaluate administrators because they have a significant impact on students’ outcomes that cannot be ignored. Ineffective administrators, like ineffective teachers, can reduce learning by students.
How can we retain more effective teachers?
The majority of our teachers are hardworking and effective. The previous estimates point clearly to the key imperative of eliminating the drag of the bottom teachers. Here we can offer several alternatives.
One approach might be better recruitment so that ineffective or poor teachers do not make it into our schools. Or, relatedly, we could improve the training in schools of education so that the average teaching recruit is better than the typical recruit of today. Unfortunately, we have relatively few successful experiences with either approach as compared to considerable wishful thinking, particularly among school personnel.
An alternative might be to change a poor teacher into an average teacher. This approach is in fact today’s dominant strategy. Schools hope that through mentoring of incoming teachers, professional development, or completion of further graduate schooling, ineffective teachers can be transformed into acceptable (average) teachers.
Again, however, the existing evidence is not very reassuring. While such efforts undoubtedly help some teachers, there is no substantial evidence that certification, in-service training, master’s degrees, or mentoring programs systematically make a difference in whether teachers are in fact effective at driving student achievement.
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