by Betheny Gross, Michael DeArmond
American Enterprise Institute
September 12, 2013
Educational leaders at all levels of government are rethinking how public schools hire, develop, and reward teachers. School district leaders are taking human resource (HR) systems driven by compliance and regulatory concerns and transforming them to take a more strategic and performance based approach. State legislatures are adopting new evaluation systems designed to meaningfully differentiate teachers by effectiveness. When researchers talk about these and other ambitious teacher policy initiatives, they tend to frame the policy problem in stark terms: given the importance of teachers to student learning, public education needs to do a better job finding, rewarding, and retaining the best teachers and developing or dismissing the worst. This formulation of teacher policy ignores the fact that performance, job satisfaction, and retention don’t just depend on the individual characteristics of a teacher. Teacher performance also depends on the relationship between the teacher and the school where she or he works.