The last issue of Best Evidence in Brief reported on a study in which low-performing teachers were dismissed. A new working paper
from the National Bureau of Economic Research reports on an experiment
where low-performing teachers were provided with coaching from
The experiment took place in Tennessee in 14 elementary and middle
schools. Tennessee teachers are observed in the classroom many times
each year, and scored on 19 specific skills (eg, questioning, lesson
structure and pacing, and managing student behaviour). Schools were
randomly assigned to a treatment condition or business-as-usual control
group. In the treatment schools, low-performing “target” teachers were
matched with high-performing teachers, based on the outcomes of their
classroom observations. The high-performing teachers were chosen based
on their high scores in skills for which the low-performing teachers had
received a low score. The pairs were encouraged to work together on
these skills, as well as more generally on observing each other’s
teaching, discussing strategies for improvement, and following up on
each other’s commitments throughout the year.
After a year, students in treatment schools (whether taught by target
or non-target teachers) showed a small improvement (effect size +0.06)
on maths and English tests, when compared with students in control
schools. Gains by students taught by target teachers were higher
(+0.12). These improvements persisted and grew. In the following year,
the effect for target teachers was a marginally significant +0.25.
Source:Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data (2016), The National Bureau of Economic Research.