Teacher Quality since NCLB - a new AEI education paper

As Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act--commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB)--policy makers must rethink outdated tenure, evaluation, and pay systems for teachers. In a new series, Teacher Quality 2.0, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education scholars aim to provide solutions.

In the first paper, Arnold Schober of Lawrence University puts the series in context, explaining how the definition of teacher quality has changed over time.In the past, teachers were deemed qualified if they had the proper certification before entering the classroom.  Today, a teacher's quality is assessed by their performance in theclassroom.

How can states and schools adapt?

  • Overhaul teacher preparation: Since policy makers have gone from trusting qualifications to demanding measurement of success, there is a need to revamp teacher education programs. Requiring residency programs before certification and requiring existing teachers to gain advanced credentials are among his suggestions.
  • Expand the pool of recruits: Since traditionally certified teachers tend to have lower academic scores in college than graduates as a whole, and since research suggests that professional development has little impact on teaching effectiveness, alternative certification (such as participation in Teach for America) could help make teaching a more attractive long term option to potentially excellent applicants from other fields.  
  • Replace teacher tenure: Decades of research have shown that teacher credentials are unrelated to teacher quality. Teacher tenure is often based on credentials or seniority. Schools should pay teachers based their effectiveness, not status. 

Arnold Shober is an associate professor of government at Lawrence University, and can be reached at arnold.shober@lawrence.edu or through lauren.aronson@aei.org (202.862.5904). 

To learn more about AEI's education project, click here

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