Search the Site

Quantifying Teacher Effectiveness

Teach for America (TFA) is known for putting recent college graduates in low-income public schools for two-year teaching stints, a mission that has produced a lot of passionate debate. The organization’s founders hope that these young teachers will eventually become education leaders and advocates — and many of them have. TFA has another, less well-known mission. Amanda Ripley reports that over the past 20 years, TFA has tracked the performance of 85 percent to 90 percent of its students and in the process learned a lot about what makes a great teacher. Great teachers share some key characteristics: they set big goals for their students, constantly seek to improve their own effectiveness, actively involve students and their families, stay focused, plan extensively by working backwards from their desired outcome, and work relentlessly. The research comes as Education Secretary Arne Duncan initiates a series of programs aimed at improving teacher quality. As one expert told Ripley: “This is the big bang of teacher-effectiveness reform. It’s huge.” [%comments]