The past decade saw unprecedented progress on teacher quality. Policymakers came to embrace two key research-based ideas: teachers are the single most important in-school factor for student achievement, and traditional methods of measuring teacher quality have little to no bearing on actual student learning. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of states that required annual evaluations for all teachers increased from 15 to 28. The number of states that required teacher evaluations to include objective measures of student achievement nearly tripled, from 15 to 41. And the number of states that required student growth to be the preponderant criteria in teacher evaluations increased fivefold, from 4 to 20. School districts across the country, in places like New York, Washington, D.C., Denver, and Chicago, instituted new policies designed to reward teachers for their performance. Federal programs like Race to the Top and the ESEA waiver process further solidified the importance of teacher effectiveness. In Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges: A Decade of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms, Andrew J. Rotherham and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel analyze what spurred the past decade of progress in teacher quality policy, today’s status quo, and what corrections and next steps policymakers and philanthropists should take.
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