Dylan will argue that the main reason that most system-wide educational reforms have failed is that they have ignored (1) the importance of teacher quality for student progress; (2) the fact that teacher quality is highly variable; and (3) that teacher quality has differential impact on different students. Teacher quality can be improved by replacing teachers with better ones, but this is slow, and of limited impact. This suggests that the future economic prosperity of each country requires improving the quality of the teachers already working in its schools. We can help teachers develop their practice in a number of ways; some of these will benefit students, and some will not. Developments with the biggest impact appear to be those that involve changes in practice, which will require new kinds of teacher learning, new models of professional development, and new models of leadership.
By the end of this session, participants will understand the various approaches that have been used to measure the differences between teachers in their effectiveness, and understand the magnitude of teacher effects relative to student progress. Participants will also understand why various attempts to identify the characteristics of effective teachers have been unsuccessful, so that evaluating teachers is likely to be an ineffective approach to improving education. Participants will also understand how to apply cost-effective analysis to potential mechanisms for improving teacher quality, and learn why changing practice in classrooms, though challenging, is likely to provide the greatest improvements in student achievement.