RAND's Measuring Teacher Effectiveness Experts

RAND Education's experts in measuring teacher effectiveness are nationally recognized in their professions and include economists, behavioral scientists, organizational analysts, and statisticians. RAND Education has more than 50 staff members who represent a broad range of skills and expertise.

John Engberg

John Engberg

Senior Economist

Measuring teacher effectiveness is a key to identifying reforms that really work. Using comprehensive measures that include both student achievement growth and reports of teaching practice can help estimate the return on investments in new curricula, teacher training programs, or school configurations. These decisions may not have high stakes for individual teachers, but they can have tremendous impact on student achievement and well-being.

Laura S. Hamilton

Laura S. Hamilton

Senior Behavioral Scientist

One of the hallmarks of a good teacher evaluation system is the inclusion of multiple measures. Teachers' jobs are complex, and we can't possibly measure every aspect of a teacher's work or every outcome he or she might influence. But capturing a range of practices and outcomes can give us a broad picture of a teacher's accomplishments and ensure that the system provides teachers with useful feedback for improvement.

Kata Mihaly

Kata Mihaly

Associate Economist

Since 2009, more than 30 states have dramatically reformed the way they evaluate teachers and principals. A majority of these new evaluation systems combine data on objective evidence of student learning (such as value-added) with other measures, such as teacher observation ratings, student satisfaction surveys, and student learning objectives. It remains to be seen how successfully districts can use data to implement the new measures and whether the revised measures are able to distinguish among teachers and principals of different quality.

Brian M. Stecher

Brian M. Stecher

Associate Director, RAND Education; Senior Social Scientist

Research shows that effective teachers can have very different styles. Thinking back on the teachers who had the biggest impact on me, some were very structured, while others were more open; some were jokers, while others were more serious. One challenge in measuring teacher effectiveness is to respect these different approaches—while ensuring that student growth remains the goal.

Jennifer L. Steele

Jennifer L. Steele

Policy Researcher

Before each school year, families wonder which teacher their child will have. Of course, they hope for a great one—a teacher who generates excitement about learning, maintains a safe classroom, and encourages students. These are all characteristics of good teaching, and all are difficult to measure accurately by analyzing student test scores or the occasional classroom observation. But while measurement issues can be controversial, everyone agrees with the goal of getting a great teacher in every classroom.