The Importance of Teacher Supply to Education Reform

teacherevalPaul Bruno at the Brookings Institution explores the relationship between teacher evaluation policies and the supply of teachers in a recent article.

Overall, teacher evaluations have been ramping up in recent years, with some evidence in New York City and Washington D.C. that they are improving student achievement. However, in general, teacher evaluation reforms in many states have not led to significant change. Most teachers are still rated as above average. Bruno argues that one of the main reasons for this may be that principals and other school leaders are averse to rating teachers poorly, which could lead to higher teacher attrition, as long as they do not have a realistic hope of hiring a better candidate in a timely manner. This is probably even more true in high-need teaching roles, such as STEM, Spanish, and special education.

Bruno argues for a realistic approach to teacher evaluation reform that acknowledges these realities. In other words, school leaders may need to evaluate math teachers less frequently if they do not have a realistic hope of hiring a better candidate soon. After all, research shows that teacher turnover in and of itself leads to decreases in student achievement.

At the end of the day, Bruno is arguing for teacher evaluation reform that achieves what it says it will achieve. What good will teacher evaluations do if everyone just receives similar scores, and evaluations don’t have any correlation to bringing in better teachers?

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