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October 3, 2012

How Should We Measure Teacher Effectiveness?

Some of the most urgent and contentious debates taking hold in states and school districts around the country revolve around the question of how to accurately measure a teacher's effectiveness. A new RAND Education website provides objective, nonpartisan insights that can help inform the discussion.

The Measuring Teacher Effectiveness website draws on RAND's expertise and extensive research to provide succinct, substantive information to teachers, administrators, policymakers, and parents on this important topic. For example:

  • Research finds that teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling—more than services, facilities, and even school leadership.
  • A teacher's credentials cannot reliably predict their classroom effectiveness. Research suggests that the best way to assess a teacher's effectiveness is to look at their on-the-job performance, including their students' standardized test scores. However…
  • Test scores alone do not tell the whole story. Standardized tests tell us a lot about achievement in reading and math, but less about other subjects, including social studies, science, and art. Achievement tests can also exclude a student's grasp of higher-order skills, such as problem solving, teamwork, and information synthesis.
  • Effective teachers tend to stay effective even when they change schools. Recent evidence suggests that a teacher's impact on student achievement remains reasonably consistent even if the teacher changes schools and regardless of whether the new school is more or less advantaged than the old one.

The Measuring Teacher Effectiveness website answers the difficult, critical questions surrounding how we gauge teacher performance.

— Pete Wilmoth

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