Teacher Quality Research (TQR) is a partnership between researchers at Florida State University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The purpose of TQR is to provide research evidence on the characteristics and education of effective teachers, in order to develop policies to improve the quality of teachers and instruction. We address the following basic questions about teacher quality:
* What is the best way to measure each teacher’s contribution to student achievement—their “value-added”? There is considerable disagreement among researchers on this topic and our research helps to resolve some of these.
* What types of teacher characteristics are associated with higher teacher value-added? We identify some forms of teacher education that do seem to matter. Our work also highlights some of the difficulties involved when trying to understand the causal effects of teacher characteristics. In research to be released in later 2007, we also consider the relationships between teacher value-added and factors teachers’ teaching skills, subject knowledge and personality traits.
* Are teachers with high value-added also considered effective according to other measures? In research soon to be released, we find a positive relationship between teacher value-added and principals’ confidential evaluations of teachers, which focus more heavily on teachers’ contributions beyond the classroom. We also consider how the characteristics of effective teachers vary when effectiveness is measured in different ways.
* What does this research mean—and not mean—for policies aimed at improving the quality of teaching? The process of improving teacher quality is complex and requires careful interpretation of research and understanding of the practical realities of schools. In our discussions of policy implications, we focus particularly on the distinction between centralized and decentralized approaches to improving teacher quality and on the different ways that teacher quality measures can be used.