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Teacher Quality

reviewed by Janice L. Hall - 2003

coverTitle: Teacher Quality
Author(s): Lance T. Izumi and Williamson M. Evers (Eds.)
Publisher: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford
ISBN: 0817929320, Pages: 84, Year: 2002
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My time is so precious that I won’t finish a book unless I’m learning a lot from it and it is written well enough to keep me interested in continuing.  I not only finished this book but will also refer to it many times in the future.  If you deal with teacher quality issues, I believe you will want a copy of this one.


The forward of the book states that teacher quality has the greatest impact on improving the performance of students.  For this reason, the Hoover Institution and the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRI) convened a conference in May 2000 on teacher quality to address critical issues in teacher education.  They gathered together the nation’s leading experts to present formal papers on various aspects of teacher quality.  The book includes a preface by William J. Bennett and essays on teacher quality, equity in educational opportunity, accountability systems, teacher training and pedagogical issues, and teaching methods. 


“Teacher Quality” by Eric A. Hanushek discusses how government can improve the quality of teachers without making the current problems worse.  The two main issues he addresses are certification and incentives.  These sections point out that many popular political initiatives have little evidence to suggest that they are strongly related to teacher quality and student achievement.  However, he feels that “without federal involvement there is likely to be too little investment in evaluation and knowledge production” (p. 10).

“Teacher Quality and Equity in Educational Opportunity: Findings and Policy Implications” by June C. Rivers and William L. Sanders describes “how teachers can be evaluated based on the academic gains students make in their classrooms” (p. 13). It discusses an innovative system of assessing teacher effectiveness through student progress.  These researchers declared that “many teachers do not recognize that they are ineffective until confronted with the objective evidence that their students are not making appropriate rates of gain” (p. 21).  They offer suggestions on how to minimize the impact of ineffective teachers. 

“Teacher Quality Accountability Systems: The View from Pennsylvania” by Eugene W. Hickok addresses how to find, prepare, and retain good teachers while dealing with those who are incompetent.  It describes a bill signed into law in May 2000 in Pennsylvania called the Education Empowerment Act.  The bill provided low-performing districts with flexibility to contract out certain services, create more choice, reconstitute schools, or charter the entire district.  The districts are also eligible for additional resources.  The rest of the article discusses other developments in the state on teacher preparation, certification, professional development, and alternative certification programs.  It is interesting to note that the deans of the various schools of education and the teacher unions were not supportive of the reforms.  The reasons are explained in the article and should give valuable information on their objections to anyone who is facing similar reforms in their state.

“Teacher Training and Pedagogical Methods” by J. E. Stone discusses the difference between education’s consumers and providers.  This article will stimulate the reader to want to read more about the ideas the author presents.  One of these ideas is that “schools of education are not really interested in teaching that is primarily intended to improve achievement” (p. 34-35).   This seems to be a pretty powerful allegation, but the author goes into detail on why this conclusion was drawn.  The author also examines current reforms in teacher education, discussing the efforts of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and arguing that the changes “have little to do with advancing what most parents and taxpayers want” (p. 49). 

In the final section Stone explains why value-added assessment of teacher effectiveness is significant.  Arguing on behalf of teachers, Stone notes that “One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching is that you can do an excellent job of getting students to learn and your efforts may never be noticed, much less appreciated” (p. 53).  The article ends with a brief discussion of Title II of the 1998 Higher Education Act and explains why “Tennessee’s Value-Added Assessment System would be an excellent gauge of program performance” (p. 54).

“Teaching Methods” by Herbert J. Walberg “documents effective teaching methods and examines which, if any, are implemented in classrooms in the United States” (p. 55).  This article presents nine Educational Productivity Factors which would be helpful in discovering the causes of learning.  What follows is a valuable descriptive summary of pedagogical methods that are not new to the teaching profession, but very well examined, in brief, as to their effectiveness.  A second list of observable Indicators of School Quality Associated with Achievement helps further to present the conditions for effective teaching. 

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 7, 2003, p. 1377-1379
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11130, Date Accessed: 5/20/2022 10:53:43 PM

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About the Author
  • Janice Hall
    Utah State University
    E-mail Author
    JANICE HALL is the Director of Field Experiences in the department of Secondary Education at Utah State University. Her research interests include mentoring, supervision, and diversity issues. She is currently working on a project to create a mentor training program with the Utah School District.
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