Straight Talk on Teaching Quality: Six Game-Changing Ideas

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Schott Foundation for Public Education recently released a new report, Straight Talk on Teaching Quality: Six Game-Changing Ideas and What to Do About Them.  The report, which is more of a guide for improving teaching effectiveness, is based on the plethora of evidence that links teaching quality and student achievement.  Though clearly emphasizing that teaching quality is the single largest in-school influence on student learning, the guide also stresses that there are internal and external factors that have tremendous influence on teaching quality.

At the beginning of the report, two important caveats are put into place:  First, as discussed above, is that teaching quality is the most important variable in student performance.  Second, though there is not a common definition of what effective teaching looks like and how to measure it, “there is enough common ground and common knowledge right now to make better policies and implement more effective practices.”

Each of the six strategies is given their own chapter, and dealt with in a problem-solution manner, a short case study of a success story, and accompanied by “What Can I Do?” boxes that help educators know what questions to ask, both of themselves and policymakers, and what to advocate for.  The strategies are:

1. “Follow Your Bliss: Career Pathways for Teachers”

2. “Evaluation Nation: Multiple Ways of Measuring Performance”

3. “Supports for Teachers, Not Just Rewards and Sanctions: Why Firing Teachers Won’t Lead to Large-Scale Improvement”

4. “Environmentally Friendly: Why School Culture and Working Conditions Matter”

5. “No Teacher is an Island: The Importance of In-School Partnerships and Teacher Collaboration”

6. “No School is an Island: Partnerships with Parents and Community”

In the end, the authors stress their definition of the effective teacher: “one who helps students learn more and spreads her or his own expertise to colleagues.”  They also urge all stakeholders in public education to keep the conversation about teaching quality “on the right track” by using the strategies in the guide as a template for what needs to be addressed.

To read the guide, please visit