How to Raise the Quality of Teachers

February 7, 2013

It appeals to common sense that in order to have the best students in the world the United States must seek out, train and retain the best teachers in the world, says John Chubb, a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) sets educational standards, such as the goal that students reach proficiency as measured by a 600 on both the reading and math sections of the SAT. Despite the goal of getting students to score an overall 1,200 on the SAT, even the most generous estimates place U.S. teachers' scores at 1,021 overall, an almost 200-point gap between teacher performance and student expectations.

  • To improve the quality of teachers, Chubb identifies teacher recruitment as a problem. In order to attract higher-quality, higher-potential teaching candidates, he suggests creating more challenging work, offering more competitive pay, incentivizing performance and incorporating more technology.
  • Chubb also suggests training teachers in methods that are effective and based on research, and abandoning traditional and popular schools of education that do not produce teachers who raise student achievement.
  • He also suggests that principals are a key element in acquiring and retaining great teachers. Good principals create positive environments that foster teacher development and atmospheres conducive to learning. Principals should focus on retaining top-quartile teachers, replacing bottom-quartile teachers and hiring new teachers with potential.

In opposition to the current established emphasis on preparation and licensing, these three recommendations focus on increasing teacher quality through results rather than education. In this framework, policymakers should focus on measuring teacher training and effectiveness. By divulging which training programs are effective, states, districts, prospective teachers and institutions will choose which programs will flourish and which will disappear.

Chubb believes this new strategy increases the incentives for educators to reform their own profession, but is adamant that federal policy must not mandate these changes. Instead, policymakers should provide information about which practices are proving most effective. This will allow teachers to adopt more innovative methods in advancing their profession while shedding the long-established ideology of how teachers in the United States should be trained.

Source: John Chubb, "The Best Teachers in the World," Hoover Institution, January 25, 2013.

 

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