What happens when teacher performance data is made public?
- After the release of teacher ratings by the Los Angeles Times in 2010, an unintended consequence was that more high-achieving students, many of whom were from more affluent families, were placed with high-achieving teachers, exacerbating the problem of inequality, Chalkbeat reports.
- Another study of the issue published in the peer-reviewed journal of Economics of Education found that publishing the ratings also resulted in a one-year spike in the city's public school teacher turnover rate.
- However, another study conducted by Nolan Pope at the University of Maryland found a positive impact in that many L.A. teachers improved after the scores were published, with the effects bigger for those whose scores were lowest to begin with.
In ideal world, all teachers would be highly effective and every student would have access to one. However, the reality is that teacher effectiveness has a significant effect on student achievement. Under those circumstances, it may be natural for parents of higher-achieving students to push for better teachers. However, this situation is not fair for lower-income students who often have greater need of more experienced and effective teachers.
Measuring teacher effectiveness is not always easy. Because more effective teachers are needed in struggling classrooms, judging them by measures of student achievement alone doesn't always accurately reflect their worth. Sometimes, these teachers are judged by growth data and other aspects of teaching, which can produce fairer results. Teacher evaluation can play a valuable role in providing needed supports to improve teacher effectiveness. However, parents and the public may have a hard time understanding all the factors that play into measures of teacher value and impact.
Administrators often wrestle with decisions of effective teacher placement. However, the best long-term solution for this issue is to increase the number of effective teachers. While the hiring process offers the first step toward increasing teacher talent, administrators can also improve their current crop of teachers by supporting new teachers and encouraging more experienced teachers to push their boundaries and become more effective themselves. Offering solid professional development programs, opportunities for collaboration, and strong mentoring supports, administrators can progress closer to the goal of providing a “good teacher” for every student.