Skip to:

How Many Teachers Does It Take To Close An Achievement Gap?


A compelling video from RSA that I feel illustrates why merit pay isn't effective, but that raising salaries will help.

I feel like you are burying your most important conclusion almost in the end -- that teachers don't consistently rate in at the top percentile. It makes me question whether the attribute being measured is really the quality of the teacher, or something else in the environment. Could it be as simple as a good mixture of students in a class? (Something that changes radically from year to year.) Or is there actually something unsustainable about being a top teacher? Because "top teacher" means "the teacher at the time when students are doing well" there's a kind of tautology -- of course students under top teachers will do well, that's how a top teacher has been defined! That's not an interesting conclusion at all, it's more the *shape* of the numbers than the mere presence of correlation that might tell us something.

I agree with Ian Bicking. For such an important blog post, it takes forever to get to the conclusion and lacks a lot of clarity. You should really start out by directly quoting Kristof, then talk maybe about one specific example of an old study his idea was based on and how the study worked. From there, go directly go into your conclusion and spend the bulk of your time talking about your conclusion (that we can't measure top teachers well and what the flaws of the study were). Be extremely clear. You have too much extraneous information and it's hard to understand (you definitely don't need to use the awkward phrase 'X many teachers in a row'). I would strongly recommend rewriting.


This web site and the information contained herein are provided as a service to those who are interested in the work of the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI). ASI makes no warranties, either express or implied, concerning the information contained on or linked from The visitor uses the information provided herein at his/her own risk. ASI, its officers, board members, agents, and employees specifically disclaim any and all liability from damages which may result from the utilization of the information provided herein. The content in the Shanker Blog may not necessarily reflect the views or official policy positions of ASI or any related entity or organization.