Teachers Matter

Rethinking How Public Schools Identify, Reward, and Retain Great Educators

By (author) Marcus A. Winters

Publication date:

30 November 2011

Length of book:

176 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442210776

Most of us have had at least one amazing teacher who has inspired, influenced, or encouraged us to do better, aim higher, or just be more confident. However, most of us have also had at least one teacher who has not met our expectations. In Teachers Matter, education researcher Marcus A. Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that our failure to identify and reward high-quality teachers has been devastating for public school students. The question is how do we sort out the good teachers form the bad? Winters shows the shortcomings of the current system that relies on credentials and longevity and spells out a series of reforms based on results achieved in the classroom. For the first time, standardized test results offer an objective, reliable measure of student proficiency that can be tied to an individual teacher. Sure to be controversial, Winters’s plan will be of interest to the education community, policy makers, and parents concerned about the future of education in America.
Research has shown that teacher effectiveness boosts student achievement without regard to race, ethnicity, or socioeconomics. Yet the nation’s public-school systems treat all teachers the same, ignoring vast differences in skills and effectiveness, relying exclusively on seniority to make decisions about retention. One reason has been the difficulty of measuring teacher effectiveness. Education scholar Winters maintains that by using the much-maligned standardized test scores and observing teachers more frequently, schools can identify teachers who are helping students to advance. Winters’ arguments for school reform are based on the principles that the highest purpose of public schools is to educate students, that they are not profit-making firms, and that research can help in crafting education policy. In fact, he relies on research data to quantify the problem and make the case for reform, exploring the particular promise and limitation of standardized tests for measuring student achievement. He concludes with recommendations for reform, including merit pay for effective teachers. This is a thoughtful look at the need for school reform that is sure to provoke controversy.