Firing 6 percent of teachers, after identifying the least effective, is the best way to improve students’ skills and stimulate economic recovery, according to a speech by Stanford’s Eric Hanushek, a specialist on the economics of education, at the University of Kentucky.
. . . Hanushek lamented the years the United States has wasted on resource solutions to improve student outcomes that have not worked. Among the factors not found to impact student achievement were per-pupil expenditures, class size, pupil/teacher ratios, whether or not teachers have master’s degrees, years of experience possessed by teachers and teacher certification.
. . . Looking at data from a large, urban school district, he found that effective teachers at the top of the quality distribution got “an entire year’s worth of additional learning out of their students, compared to those near the bottom.”
A majority of teachers are effective, Hanushek said. Nearly all will improve with training and support. But the worst teachers aren’t capable of becoming good teachers no matter how much remediation they get. They’re dragging down the schools. They need to go.
The Gates Foundation is focusing on evaluating teacher effectiveness, writes Melinda Gates in a Washington Post op-ed.
. . . a team of researchers (with support from the Gates Foundation) is working with more than 3,000 teachers in seven school districts to develop measures of teacher effectiveness. The project uses seven methods, including videotaping classes, analyzing test scores, and surveying teachers, students and parents.
The teachers’ unions are “partnering” with school officials on this work, Gates writes. Of course, it’s hard to say no to Gates money.
Update: National Journal’s Education Experts are debating Houston’s new policy of evaluating teacher effectiveness based on value-added test scores: 400 teachers — 3 percent of the total — may be fired for failure to help students progress.