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Key Facts

Better Pay, Better Teachers

What is the achievement gap?

The term achievement gap refers to any significant and persistent disparity in academic performance or educational attainment between different groups of students, such as students from higher-income and lower-income households.

What have school districts done right and done wrong when it comes to student achievement?

The impact of schools is highly dependent on the quality of teachers within each school. Schools that have been able to hire and retain very effective teachers have done well. But schools that have not done so have lagged. It turns out that we currently do not have generally good teacher evaluation policies, and where good evaluations exist we seldom use that information to make personnel decisions. The research suggests that this unfortunate situation stops us from the overall improvement that we would like. To be clear, most teachers are effective and should be retained. Moreover, teachers are certainly not responsible for all of the problems of achievement that we see. As noted, teachers are just one element of a child’s learning. On the other hand, we also know that effective teachers can solve many of the achievement problems—i.e., they can be the answer.

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