Teacher effectiveness has a dramatic effect on student outcomes

Teacher effectiveness has a dramatic effect on student outcomes -- how can it be increased?

Recent research on the economics of teachers and teaching has shown that this is an area of excellent policy promise for raising student achievement. No other attribute of schools comes close to having this much influence on student achievement. Understanding the meaning and role of teacher effectiveness offers policymakers new opportunities to realize their educational objectives.

A new report publishing tomorrow by IZA World of Labor- suggests that teacher effectiveness has a strong effect on pupils’ attainment. According to economist Simon Burgess of the University of Bristol, in the US- replacing the least active 8% of teachers with average teachers has a present value of $100 trillion.

Burgess highlighted various studies from different countries that produced similar estimates of the impact of teacher effectiveness. These evaluations have been demonstrated to be robust and are upheld by reviews about utilizing experimental assignment of teachers to classes. The outcomes show that varieties in teacher effectiveness are critical in understanding the pupil’s achievement. It appears that no other trait of school verges on having this much impact on student accomplishment.

One of the most striking results is that replacing the lowest-performing 5-10% of teachers with average teachers would deliver extensive net present value calculations. One study estimates that replacing the 5% least effective teachers with average teachers would yield around $9,000 per classroom per year in future pupil earnings due to better education. Pupils that are taught by highly effective teachers earn more, are more likely to go to university, and to live in richer neighborhoods.

Burgess claimed, “If teacher effectiveness is that important, we need to look at methods to improve it.”

He also summarizes various studies that observed teacher selection processes, teacher training methods, and teacher evaluation and how these can be used to improve teacher performance. 

He suggests that- further study is required as three areas, in particular, seem to hold the greatest promise when it comes to improving teacher’s effectiveness: (i) improving teacher selection and hiring procedures (by for example replacing ineffective teachers at an early point in their career), (ii) reforming teacher contracts and the tenure/retention decision (currently highly effective teachers are more likely to leave their job), and (iii) re-thinking teacher professional development (through for example personalized teacher coaching).

Burgess concludes: “Teacher effectiveness should be a central concern for education policymakers…The potential size of the impact of improving teacher effectiveness represents a truly grand prize for the countries, cities, and schools which manage to crack the code of how to raise teacher effectiveness.”

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