Study Looks at Indicators of Teacher Effectiveness

According to a recent study by Harvard’s Center for Policy Education Research (CEPR), two indicators of teacher effectiveness include whether instructors were hired before or after the beginning of the school year and where they received their undergraduate education—factors typically not rewarded with increased pay.

Earlier this week researchers affiliated with the Graduate School of Education presented their findings on the variables that influence teacher effectiveness to North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

The researchers had collected data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district for the study.

The research was carried out as part of CEPR’s Strategic Data Project, which aims to use data analysis to inform policy that affects student achievement.

“It is our vision that district and state leaders will decide that deep and rigorous analysis is essential for decision-making and policy-making,” said Sarah Glover, executive director of the Strategic Data Project (SDP).


In the study, which was SDP’s first to be completed and released, indicators of teacher performance were based on students’ math and reading scores.

Though teachers with advanced degrees tend to have higher salaries, these advanced qualifications were found to have little bearing on teacher effectiveness.

According to the study, “teachers improve rapidly in early years,” but this trend flattens out after the fourth year.

Students who have worked in the public school system said they found this finding unsurprising.

“From my own experience, the first two years determine how long you stay in the classroom and also how effective you are,” said Allison L. Sikora ’11, a participant in the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, which assists students in earning educator licensures to teach middle or high school in Massachusetts upon graduating.

According to Jon Fullerton—one of the lead researchers of the study and executive director of CEPR—such research is intended “to identify areas of strength and concern for districts to allow them to think more strategically about how they can get the most effective teachers in front of the students who need them.”

—Staff writer Amira Abulafi can be reached at