Executive Summary

Why Teacher Evaluations Matter

Elevating the Teaching Profession

The evidence is clear: An effective teacher at the front of the classroom is a critical step toward helping students succeed.  You can't underestimate the power an inspirational and dedicated teacher can have over desire of young people to learn.  By providing the best teachers possible, we can help make sure all students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, benefit from a great teacher.

Impact of Effective Teaching

Both education levels AND teacher quality have a direct economic impact on students.  Stanford Professor Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, estimates that a not necessarily great but good teacher -- one in the 69th percentile among peers -- will add $10,600 to the lifetime earnings of a student.  Add that to the fact high school dropouts will earn about $11,000 per year, high school graduates $23,000, and college graduates over $51,000 -- and you see that teacher quality and education levels are key drivers of individual economic success.

You can't underestimate the power an inspirational and dedicated teacher can have over young people.

Teachers Want Constructive Feedback

Quality educator evaluations have the potential to provide teachers with the support they need to improve classroom instruction. When evaluations result in constructive feedback and professional development for teachers, students stand to gain.  Surveys, such as data in the Widget Effect, also reveal that teachers want better evaluations. Another survey found that 80 percent of teachers would like evaluations that measure performance based on student growth while in their classroom or "value-added" measures.

Personnel Decisions

Evaluations also help school districts make key decisions, such as ensuring underperforming or struggling schools have effective teachers. States and school districts are also using evaluations to inform key staffing and personnel decisions, such as tenure.


  • A Tennessee Study Found That Students With Effective Teachers For Three Consecutive Years Outscored Peers With Ineffective Teachers By As Much As 50 Points In Math. “William Sanders and his colleagues in Tennessee conducted some of the best-known research of this type. They developed a value-added model to measure individual teacher contributions to student learning… In one study conducted in two large Tennessee school districts, Sanders and Rivers (1996) estimated that students assigned to three highly effective teachers in a row would have attained fifth-grade mathematics scores that were as much as 50 percentile points higher than students with comparable beginning mathematics scores but who were assigned to a series of three highly ineffective teachers… Estimates of teacher effect revealed that highly effective teachers tended to be effective with all groups of students regardless of initial achievement level, while highly ineffective teachers produced unsatisfactory gains among all groups of students (Sanders & Rivers, 1996). Moreover, results were additive and cumulative, so that the contributions of both highly effective and ineffective teachers to students’ learning gains could be measured for at least four years after students left their classrooms…” (“Does evidence suggest that some teachers are significantly more effective than others at improving student achievement?” Center for Educator Compensation Reform, accessed 12/25/11)
  • The Effectiveness Of Teachers Has A Real World Impact On A Students’ Future Earnings. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek: “Take a good but not great teacher, one at the 69th percentile of all teachers rather than at the 50th percentile (that is, a teacher who is half a standard deviation above the average). She produces an increase of $10,600 on each student’s lifetime earnings. Even a modestly better than average teacher (60th percentile) raises individual earnings by $5,300, compared to what would otherwise be expected. While those numbers are not trivial, they burgeon dramatically once we recognize that every student in the class can expect such increases in earnings. Consider, for example, a teacher with a class of 20 students. Under such circumstances, the teacher at the 60th percentile will—each year—raise students’ aggregate earnings by a total of $106,000. The impact of one at the 69th percentile (as compared to the average) is $212,000, and one at the 84th percentile will shift earnings up by more than $400,000. But there is also symmetry to these calculations. A very low performing teacher (at the 16th percentile of effectiveness) will have a negative impact of $400,000 compared to an average teacher. (Eric Hanushek, “Value Teachers: How much is a good teacher worth?” Education Next, Summer 2011)
  •  The Achievement Gap Costs the American Economy Trillions Each Year A persistent gap in academic achievement between children in the United States and their counterparts in other countries deprived the US economy of as much as $2.3 trillion in economic output in 2008, McKinsey & Company  research finds. To put this number in perspective, the last recession caused economic output to contract by less than $3 trillion. In other words, the achievement gap acts like a permanent recession on the American economy. (Economic Cost of the U.S. Education Gap.  McKinsey Quarterly. June 2009 Accessed on August 09, 2010)


The Federal Government and Teacher Evaluation

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