Monday, June 10, 2013
How much do teachers vary in performance improvement during their first five years of teaching
Educational policymakers struggle to find ways to improve the quality
of the teacher workforce. The early career period represents a
unique opportunity to identify struggling teachers, examine the
likelihood of future improvement, and make strategic pre-tenure
investments in improvement as well as dismissals to increase teaching
quality. To date, only a little is known about the dynamics of
teacher performance in the first five years.
This paper asks how much teachers vary in performance improvement
during their first five years of teaching and to what extent
initial job performance predictslater performance.
The authors find that, on average, initial performance is
quite predictive of future performance, far more so than typically
measured teacher characteristics. Predictions are particularly
powerful at the extremes.
The authors employ these predictions to explore the
likelihood of personnel actions that inappropriately distinguish
performance when such predictions are mistaken as well as the much
less discussed costs of failure to distinguish performance when
meaningful differences exist. The results have important
consequences for improving the quality of the teacher workforce.