« Rating Teachers—Posner | Main | Reforming the Patent System Toward a Minimalist System-Becker »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Rick LeVan

Becker, I like the article, but I wonder about the implications of the correlation between teachers improving test scores and the large effects on subsequent earnings. You seem to imply that because these students earn more, the teachers who taught them ought to be better. This is without doubt at least partially true.

But I think it could also be true that good grades serve as a signal where employers with imperfect information try to hire the students with the best grades (independently of how connected such grades are to expected job performance). If this is the case, then if everyone received higher test scores, it would just lead to signal inflation--not a general improvement in education.

How much research is there on the correlation between student success in mastering state exams and general success on the job?



We want student performance to be included in teacher evaluation, but not all teachers have tested students, and class sections are not identical. So why not use aggregate student peformance across the school as a single score affecting all teachers, added to their individual, qualitative scores based on classroom observations...on the theory that the whole school contributes to good or poor test peformance? It's a whole-team score.

Charles Bloch

Good post. However, I'd point out that the average Asian IQ is only 106 (see http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/PPPL1.pdf )

Connor Lynch

If students can tell the difference between good and bad teachers, why not let students (and their parents) rank teachers in order of preference and let teachers decide which students get to be in their classroom based on grades and behavior reviews? So each year, the students essentially compete to get into the best classrooms within each school.

The teachers most in-demand among the best students are probably the best teachers. Not only that, but the best students won't get bored by having to go at the pace of the slowest student in the grade. Obviously there are some details to iron out, such as how to discourage grade inflation, but overall I think it's a pretty solid way to go about things. A rudimentary version of this already exists with the AP/Honors/Regular distinctions, but giving students more choices, and earlier, could really do wonders.

Problem solved. Plus, this would yield an amazing amount of information about the problems facing different schools--for instance, in areas where teacher selection preferences tend to be more or less random, lack of parental involvement is probably more to blame for poor student scores than poor teaching.


Connor, your solution would be counter-productive, because it would perpetuate inequality. If the best students get to choose the best teachers, then that means the most at-risk students get stuck with the worst teachers. Those students who are most prepared, either because they have supportive parents who have time and resources to help them with homework, who actually get to eat breakfast before they come to school, are genetically gifted, etc., would benefit from better teachers. Meanwhile, those students who are already disadvantaged would get the worst teachers.


While I disagree with Connor's suggestion to let teachers decide which students get to be in their classroom, I think he is correct in pointing out that the teachers that are most preferred by the best students are likely to be "the best", and therefore deserve to be rated accordingly.


Why are we even concerned about education and the underpriveleged and underclasses? Why, "Let them eat cake"! Or do we still have a fundamental belief in the concept of Universal Public Education and the principles of Horace Mann...


It was easier with nuns, the orders sent the bad ones to darn the altar linens...and I am not kidding.

Good parents make teaching a lot more efficient.


Can someone please acknowledge that there is subjectivity in evaluations for all other jobs? And surprise, it isn't always fair. There is a fundamental problem with our public schools when so many teachers have such distrust of administrators, especially when they always come from the ranks of teaching.

Aordover, most classes don't have standardized testing but would you want to be evaluated on the performance of your entire peer group? In my job, we work just fine as a team but my performance is my own. In theory, if someone goes into the teaching profession, one hopes they are passionate about the success of students and will be willing to lend a hand to support other members of the school staff in order to have a fabulous and successful school.

Jdwalton, of course good parents make teaching a lot more efficient but I don't think our society is ready to put any type of requirements onto parents - then we end up punishing the students for the failings of their parents, and if a kid has parents who don't care, haven't they already been punished?

To use a military analogy, no one joins the military these days thinking they will never go to war, and no one should go into teaching thinking it will be utopia. It's a tough job but the rewards are better than just about any other job out there.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Become a Fan

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31