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ERIC Number: EJ1093061
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
In Schools, Teacher Quality Matters Most
Goldhaber, Dan
Education Next, v16 n2 p56-62 Spr 2016
Fifty years after the release of "Equality of Educational Opportunity"--widely known as the Coleman Report--much of what James Coleman and his colleagues reported holds up well to scrutiny. It is, in fact, remarkable to read through the 700-plus pages and see how little has changed about what the empirical evidence says matters. The report's conclusions about the importance of teacher quality, in particular, have stood the test of time, which is noteworthy, given that today's studies of the impacts of teachers use more-sophisticated statistical methods and employ far better data. Moreover, many of the Coleman findings foretold debates over school and teacher policy that continue to rage today. The Coleman Report focused on differences in schooling resources available to white and minority students and on the degree of racial segregation in America's public schools. It was also the first major, large-scale study to try to document the influence of schooling resources on student achievement, and how the influence of schooling resources compares to the influence of student background and socioeconomic status. Here, author, Dan Goldhaber, director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research at American Institutes for Research and director of the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington, points out that if anything, the half century of research on student achievement has strengthened arguments for a policy focus on teacher quality. Goldhaber suggests that those who buy the notion that the Coleman Report basically got it right ought to ask why we have not made more progress in improving the quality of the teacher workforce (or schools more generally). Goldhaber writes that he believes one part of the problem is that, 50 years later, educators are still debating the extent to which education policy ought to focus on teacher quality, and on the performance of individual teachers in particular. The research showing the important variation in teacher quality within schools and its connection not only to test scores but also to other important outcomes ought to strengthen arguments for teacher-oriented policy interventions, however it is precisely the focus on teacher evaluation--and whether it is connected to student test scores--that is at the center of the most hotly contested education policy debates. Recent revisions to the most prominent federal law dealing with school quality--the Elementary and Secondary Education Act--mark a sharp rollback of the federal role in teacher evaluation and accountability. Goldhaber closes the article by saying that if states and localities consequently begin to focus less attention on teacher quality, policymakers, will have failed to see the most important lessons of both the Coleman Report and subsequent research. [This article is part of a new "Education Next" series commemorating the 50th anniversary of James S. Coleman's groundbreaking report, "Equality of Educational Opportunity." The full series appears in the Spring 2016 issue of "Education Next."]
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act