Measuring Teacher Effectiveness

A Resource for Teachers, Administrators, Policymakers, and Parents

Many personal, family, and neighborhood factors contribute to a student's academic performance, but a large body of research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most. What's less clear, however, is how to measure an individual teacher's effectiveness.

It's a complex topic, and there are many factors that should be considered. RAND Education and Labor has applied its expertise to this and nearly every other aspect of the education system for more than three decades. This site is for teachers, administrators, policymakers, parents, and anyone else seeking objective, nonpartisan information on measuring teaching effectiveness.

These fact sheets are intended to provide accessible summaries of topics related to measuring teacher effectiveness. Readers who are interested in a more complete treatment of a given topic should refer to the “related readings” list at the end of each fact sheet.

Explore the Measuring Teacher Effectiveness Fact Sheet Series

  • A girl is concentrating hard on a test. She is using a pencil to write, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

    Understanding Teachers' Impact on Student Achievement

    People often emphasize the importance of good teachers, and many local, state, and federal policies are designed to promote teacher quality. Research using student scores on standardized tests confirms the common perception that some teachers are more effective at improving student test scores than others.

  • male teacher lecturing in front of chalkboard

    Value-Added Modeling 101

    Value-added models, or VAMs, attempt to measure a teacher's impact on student achievement apart from other factors, such as individual ability, family environment, past schooling, and the influence of peers.

  • parent taking child to school

    Student Growth Percentiles 101

    Student growth percentiles, or SGPs, provide a simple way of comparing the improvement of one teacher's students at the end of the year with the improvement of other students who started the year at the same level.

  • Teacher and students in the classroom, photo by dglimages/AdobeStock

    Understanding How Teachers Influence Students They Do Not Teach

    Research suggests that teachers matter most among school-related resources when it comes to student achievement. While most of the research on teacher effectiveness examines how teachers affect their own students, other studies suggest that this focus may be too narrow.

  • A teacher walking among small school children on the lesson, explaining, photo by Halfpoint/AdobeStock

    Measuring Teacher Effectiveness

    Research has validated the widespread belief that effective teaching matters. But what does effective teaching look like? And how can we measure it? Education practitioners, policymakers, and researchers have suggested a wide range of methods. Many of these have been incorporated into teacher feedback and evaluation systems.

  • Rear view of male high school teacher standing at front of class teaching lesson, photo by Monkey Business/AdobeStock

    Stakeholder Feedback Surveys

    Growing numbers of districts and states rely on surveys to gather input from education stakeholders, such as students, families, or school staff (including teachers). These surveys sometimes supplement other measures of teaching effectiveness or are included alongside these measures as part of a comprehensive teacher-evaluation model.

  • Teacher interacting with schoolboy in classroom, photo by wavebreak3/AdobeStock

    How Teachers Affect Outcomes Other than Test Scores

    Teachers’ effectiveness is often measured by their ability to improve student standardized achievement test scores in core academic subjects, such as math and reading. However, research points to the importance of social and emotional skills, such as collaboration and self-regulation, in student well-being and success both in and outside of the classroom.