Assessing Teacher Effectiveness: How Can We Predict Who Will Be a High-Quality Teacher

This project addresses a wide range of teacher quality issues relating to policies such as certification, college preparation, hiring practices, professional development, evaluation and compensation.

The first part of the project focuses on the criteria currently employed to certify teachers, including college coursework, college degrees and certification tests. We measure how much each of these criteria contribute to explaining variation in teachers' impact on student learning, or teacher "value added." In particular, we study teachers' pre-college verbal and cognitive skills, the different types of knowledge acquired in college (pedagogical versus subject-oriented), and measures of teacher experience. Previous research in this area has produced highly inconsistent findings, due in part to significant limitations in data and statistical modeling. We use a unique longitudinal database from Florida that allows us to address many of these issues.

The second part of our project concentrates on principals' ability to select the most effective teachers. We compare principals' opinions of the factors that predict teacher effectiveness with the standard measures found to be the best predictors of value added such as teacher education. In addition, we investigate the degree to which principals' subjective ratings correspond to value added measures and explain why they differ. This last aspect of the research project is especially important in light of current policy proposals that decentralize school decision-making and give more discretion to principals.

Preliminary results are available through the following manuscripts, posted on Dr. Harris's web site

Value-Added Models and the Measurement of Teacher Quality (Harris & Sass, 2005).

The Effects of Teacher Training on Teacher Value-Added (Harris & Sass, 2006).

Mix and Match: What Principals Really Want When Hiring Teachers (Harris, Rutledge, Ingle, & Thompson, 2006)

Models and Predictors of Teacher Effectiveness: A Review of the literature with Lessons from (and for) Other Occupations (Harris & Rutledge, 2006)


Completed on August 31, 2008