Taxpayers invest a lot in their teachers, and good ones are worth every penny. Nothing affects student performance more than great teachers. Conversely, weak teachers can do irreparable damage to children and their learning. This alone should prompt Ohio to glean as much information as possible about teacher effectiveness.
But in the face of Ohio's impending budget cliff and the teacher layoffs it will cause, defining teacher effectiveness has become that much more urgent. Consider two pots of federal money that have propped up Ohio's education spending: the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the August 2010 infusion of "Ed Jobs" money. Ohio received nearly a billion dollars for education from the recovery act - funding that dries up in July 2011 - which saved or created upward of 9,000 education jobs. Ed Jobs funding, to expire in 2012, funneled $361 million to Ohio and saved an estimated 5,000 teaching jobs. To say that layoffs will occur en masse is an understatement. Ohio must come up with strategies to keep the most effective teachers in classrooms.