The idea of holding schools accountable for students’ performance has stood at the center of school-reform efforts in the United States for more than two decades. One of the many questions that have been raised is whether accountability efforts could backfire by driving good teachers out of poorly rated schools, creating a vicious cycle for principals attempting to turn their institutions around.
While it’s now generally accepted that teacher quality is the most important element of a good school, research has failed to convincingly identify the characteristics of effective teachers. Because of this limitation, it’s also been difficult to explain the contribution of schools to the large variation in international test scores across countries. Eric A. Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik, and Simon Wiederhold looked at data from 31 mostly developed countries for some answers. They found that teachers’ cognitive skills can explain a significant portion of the international differences.
Continue reading “Smart Teachers, Smart Kids—An International Study of Who Teaches the Best-Testing Kids”
Though many studies have shown that teachers have large effects on student achievement, we know little about the degree to which teachers affect a broader set of student outcomes. Using data from six large school districts, Matthew A. Kraft (Brown University) estimated how teachers affect a range of student skills and competencies beyond those measured by multiple-choice tests.
Continue reading “Teacher Effects beyond the Test”
Most children in Sub-Saharan Africa are enrolled in school these days, but for reasons not well understood, they learn very little. Previous research has shown that a lack of physical resources, such as textbooks and flip charts, cannot explain these low levels of achievement. New study finds that when teachers lack knowledge, their students fall behind.
Continue reading “You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know: Teachers’ Lack of Knowledge Hampers Student Learning in Sub-Saharan Africa”