It's Easier to Pick a Good Teacher than to Train One: Familiar and New Results on the Correlates of Teacher Effectiveness
How did good teachers become good teachers? Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson seek to answer this question in their latest study, wherein they examined several traditional strategies for teachers to increase their effectiveness, such as pursuing advanced degrees, on-the-job training, etc. to determine which methods were successful. To get at this, they investigated student achievement data from all of Florida’s fourth and eighth graders who took state assessments from 2002-2009, to discern which teachers “added value” (i.e. produced gains in student achievement), and what enabled teachers to do so. Interestingly, none of the methods studied significantly improved teacher quality. The most salient findings include:
- Advanced degrees were not an indicator of teacher effectiveness, and obtaining such degrees did not make a teacher significantly more effective than she was before.
- No Florida public university offers a teacher preparation program that significantly enhanced the effectiveness of students completing the program.
- In the first one to five years of teaching, on-the-job training (years served) increased teacher effectiveness, but after five years there was no noticeable increase. In fact, effectiveness may decrease as a teacher’s career progresses.
Considering the sharp debate surrounding seniority-based layoffs, as well as Ohio’s fiscal problems (master’s degree pay raises for teachers cost over $400 million annually), state lawmakers would do well to take note of the results of this study. SB 5 is a step in the right direction on this front as it reduces emphasis on traditional notions of effectiveness such as credentials, years of service, etc. Further, although Chingos and Peterson examined only public university teacher training programs in Florida, a recent Fordham study shows that teacher training programs across the country, including in Ohio, do not adequately equip teachers for their profession. Ohio needs to ensure that teacher training programs at its public universities make a positive difference in the effectiveness of the teachers they graduate.
Easier to Pick a Good Teacher than to Train One:
Familiar and New Results on the Correlates of Teacher Effectiveness
Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson
Program on Education Policy and Governance (Harvard Kennedy School)
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