K-12 Educator and Teaching Effectiveness

Teacher asking her students a question

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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. What we do know is that across the country—even within districts and schools—there is a wide range in teaching effectiveness.

It's a complex topic that continues to dominate education policy discussions at the local, state, and federal levels. And RAND's work in this area helps to inform many of the questions that are important to consider:

  • What supports high-quality teaching?
  • How do administrators choose from the varied methods available to measure teacher effectiveness?
  • What combination of measures will make evaluations more useful and decrease the likelihood that teachers will be inaccurately classified as low-performing or high-performing?
  • Are teachers getting the right kind and amount of professional development they need to be effective educators?

ESSA expands opportunities for states and districts to use federal funding for initiatives that strive to improve the quality of school leaders.

Research In Action

  • RAND experts have provided clear recommendations for how standardized tests can be leveraged to support high-quality classroom instruction.
  • Projects like the American Teacher Panel and American School Leader Panel provide quick and easy access to hundreds of teachers from across the country—providing first-hand insight on a wide range of issues.
  • Research has laid out key recommendations for Congress as lawmakers consider federal education reform.
  • School districts may use recent RAND research to help understand the likely costs for activities that are intended to improve leadership.


More Work