In addition to the Gordon opus below which touched on a host of issues, two other new teacher quality papers worth checking out. CRPE’s Dan “Hearts are breaking” Goldhaber looks at teacher licensing tests (pdf). He finds a small relationship between the tests and student learning but discusses the obvious trade-off between screening out unsuitable candidates and also screening out good ones (the false-positive, false-negative trade-off). In other words, a rigorous test will screen out unsuitable candidates but also prevent some good ones from getting through, is it worth it? Goldhaber seeks a more talent sensitive hiring process as a check on this problem, but again the issue of culture emerges. School district HR is often not very talent sensitive now for a variety of reasons (pdf). Tough issue, great paper.
Elsewhere writing for the Foundation for Child Development and the Brookings Institution, Kate Walsh seeks to tamp down some of the expectations about teacher quality in light of the existing labor market and state of play in evaluating teachers. Important interplay with Gordon, Kane, Staiger, but also for the issue more generally, some big points tucked in here and again some trade-offs against a backdrop of urgency.