Teacher quality might matter

Ed Sector has put out a new report, purporting to show that in Illinois, students do worse if they have lower-quality teachers (as measured by the teachers’ average test scores, qualifications, etc). Unfortunately, while the conclusion seems sensible, I don’t trust the analysis. The measure of teacher quality is the average teacher quality at a school. And schools where teachers have lower qualifications are probably also places where students are poorer, have more problems at home, and so on. The right way to do this would be to look within a school, but the researchers clearly don’t have that data. This is one of those instances that illustrates how important teacher quality might be, and how hard it is to look at it properly.

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2 Responses to Teacher quality might matter

  1. And it would be nice to have some more direct measures of quality than the input measures (well they’re not quite that but they’re pretty rough proxies) that you mention.

  2. Charlie Bradley says:

    “This is one of those instances that illustrates how important teacher quality might be, and how hard it is to look at it properly.”

    As a teacher, naive in economics, I welcome the questioning of this sort of analysis. Let’s clarify how teacher quality may be developed – and also be understood by all who seek to give opinions about it.

    Surely the research quoted was a strawdog, full of political purpose but rather empty of significance for learning. And anyway, where are the Mathematics teachers going to come from? And so on.

    While my working life has been based upon an assumption that “quality teaching” makes a difference, I look forward to more questioning about the connections between the Economics of Education, the Politics of Education and the Science of Education.

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