The essential question of education policy is neither complex nor vague. In fact, it is quite simple: What works? This collection of research by the Pacific Research Institute and the Hoover Institution will do much to help schools—and parents—answer this question. The contributors, some of the brightest minds in education research, have studied the most pressing questions about teacher quality and practices. They have reviewed thousands of education studies, closely examined state test scores, and explored education theories of the past thirty years in order to assess where we are—and where we ought to be.
They identify various problems in areas of teacher quality and what must be done comprehensively to improve teachers' approaches and strategies. In many cases, the authors' findings confirm common sense: nothing is as important to learning as the quality of a student's teacher. Conventional wisdom holds, for example, that teacher training and certification lead to improved student test scores, but the authors find this belief to be mistaken.
Overall, the chapters provide the reader with a portrait of a good teacher and good teaching methods and encourage districts to set high standards for teachers, to develop strong accountability systems for measuring performance, to reward those who perform and frown on those who do not. The contributors affirm that we know what works. It is time to turn our attention to forming policies that reflect what we know to ensure that the system provides the best possible education for kids.