Last week, the Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) hosted a terrific conference at Ohio State University which brought together the state’s education research and practitioner communities. The focus of the one-day conference was teacher quality—why it matters, and how Ohio’s teacher-quality initiatives are playing out in the field.
In his keynote address, Eric Hanushek of Stanford University set the table, zeroing in on the economic value of a high-quality teacher. He showed that students who are fortunate enough to have high-quality teachers are more likely to have higher lifetime earnings than those less fortunate. The implication was easily understood: It cannot be left to chance as to whether students get a high-quality educator.
But here’s the rub: Less clear is what policies help to ensure that every Buckeye student is taught by a great teacher from Kindergarten through high-school graduation. Hanushek pointed out that several variables commonly used to measure teacher quality—including Master’s degrees, experience after a few years of teaching, and participation in professional-development programs—only weakly correlate to actual effectiveness.
A panel discussion wrestled with the ambiguity and complexity involved in raising teacher quality. (The slide decks are available here.) The panel, moderated by Rebecca Watts of the Ohio Board of Regents, included Christopher Burrows, superintendent of Georgetown Exempted Village (a district an hour east of Cincinnati), Lawrence Johnson of the University of Cincinnati, and Belinda Gimbert of Ohio State University. The panelists raised some of the prickly issues that face practitioners when it comes to...