US Report of Educator Effectiveness

Teacher Quality Matters in the US

Decades of research make it clear: teachers make a difference in student learning. In fact, Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek has noted that the difference between a good and a bad teacher can be a full level of achievement in a single school year.

In the United States, the federal and state governments have been working to provide a high quality education to all children, but significant struggles remain in developing and training teachers to deliver high quality instruction. A common understanding of what makes an effective teacher can inform policies about improving teaching quality.

What does it mean to be an effective teacher? Pearson asked students, parents, teachers, principals, policymakers and education researchers across the country what they thought.

Top 10 most important qualities of teachers in the US:

  1. Ability to Develop Trusting, Productive Relationships
  2. Patient, Caring, Kind Personality
  3. Knowledge of Learners
  4. Dedication to Teaching
  5. Subject Matter Knowledge
  6. Professionalism
  7. Ability to Engage Students in Learning
  8. Teaching Skills/Pedagogical Practices
  9. Creativity in Planning and Delivering Instruction
  10. Managing the Classroom Learning Environment

Student-Teacher Relationships Matter Most

All stakeholders most frequently cited qualities about the teacher’s disposition—being able to build relationships with students and being patient and kind—as what makes an effective teacher. And, the survey responses align with what the research says matters.

There is a link between these dispositions, teacher effectiveness, and learner outcomes. The qualities of effective teachers are characterized as the bridge between a teacher’s capabilities (what they know and CAN do) and the actions they take (what they choose to do).

What surprised us is that few education professionals, like teachers and principals, cited factors that are well-known to make teachers effective. For example, less than two percent responded that focusing on developing students non-cognitive was important, or that the ability to consistently assess student learning progress and adjust instruction.

Embedding Disposition Measures in Policy and Training

Given the challenges in recruiting and retaining the “best and brightest” in teaching, and in improving the quality of pre- and in-service teacher training, this study offers an opportunity for the United States to re-think teacher effectiveness policies and the impact on the quality of the teaching workforce.