From Teacher Education To Student Progress: Teacher Quality Since NCLB
First paper in new AEI series provides context for current teacher evaluation debate.
Since the late 1990s, teacher effectiveness, once considered an impossible variable to measure accurately, has become an essential and attainable factor in improving the quality of teachers and closing the achievement gap. Under a grant from the Joyce Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released From teacher education to student progress: Teacher quality since NCLB, the first report in AEI’s Teacher Quality 2.0 series. This first paper in a Joyce-supported series provides an overview of the last decade’s research and policy innovations that reframed thinking on objective measures to evaluate a teacher’s classroom accomplishments and shortfalls.
The report found that during the last 10 years four trends dominated policy debates at various points:
Declining trust in teacher education: Data from the Higher Education Act of 1998 showed that teacher education programs were inconsistent and graduates left the programs with different teaching abilities.
Ineffective credential requirements: Despite federal requirements for high-quality teachers, by 2006, students in high-poverty schools were still more likely to have lower-quality teachers than their peers in other schools.
Bipartisan agreement: By 2009, federal politicians in both political parties agreed that low teacher quality was a barrier to high-quality education.
New era of measurement: NCLB created a treasure trove of individual student data that, though imperfect in many ways, led to new opportunities for research to link teachers and students.
While no consensus has emerged yet about how to improve teacher quality, AEI notes that policymakers continue to experiment with many levers, including teacher preparation programs, recruitment incentives, tenure provisions, and differential pay, to achieve the highest-quality teacher workforce.
AEI is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare.
The Joyce Foundation makes grants to improve the quality of life in the Great Lakes region, especially through initiatives designed to improve public policies. The Education Program supports research that is focused on making teacher evaluations more meaningful, giving all teachers the tools they need to become great, and rewarding them for excellence, and attracting more talented adults into the profession.
Read: Asking the Right Questions About Teacher Quality, Fall 2011 newsletter