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Journal for Effective Schools

Volume 11, Number 1

knowledge, scores on a commercially available teacher selection instrument) and non-cognitive (personality traits such as extraversion or introversion and feelings of self-efficacy) factors, they have a modest and statistically significant relationships with student and teacher outcomes, especially with student test scores (Rockoff, Jacob, Kane, & Staiger, 2008). Similarly, a summary of teacher effectiveness studies finds that, in general, effective teachers bring to teaching a similar set of personal traits, skills, understandings, and dispositions to act in certain ways (Darling-Hammond, 2010b). These include a strong general intelligence and verbal ability that help them organize and explain ideas, observe analytically, and think diagnostically; solid content knowledge in the areas they teach; expertise of how to teach others to develop higher-order thinking skills in that content; an understanding of students’ differences in learning and development and how to assess and support their academic growth; flexible skills in response to students’ needs in a given situation; a readiness to support every student’s learning; the desire to continue their own professional development; and the willingness to work with colleagues and parents to help individual students and the school (Darling-Hammond, 2010b). Likewise, in a unique study of fifth grade reading and math teachers that combined teachers’ value-added scores, classroom observations, and teacher surveys, Stronge, Ward, and Grant (2011) found that top-quartile teachers had students who achieved higher academic growth, had fewer classroom disruptions, better classroom management skills, and better relationships with their students than did bottom-quartile teachers. Investigators speculated that effective teachers who can generate strong student achievement results have some particular set of attitudes, approaches, strategies, or connections with students that manifest themselves in nonacademic ways (such as positive relationships, encouragement of responsibility, classroom management, and organization) and that lead to higher achievement (Stronge, Ward, & Grant, 2011). The fact that students were not randomly assigned to classrooms and teachers volunteered for the observations and surveys limited the study’s generalizability, however. For principals, asking candidates to describe how they would assess and support their most challenging (high and low ability) students’ academic growth; inquiring about experiences in which the applicant observed analytically and thought diagnostically about an individual having difficulty learning a new task or content; or querying about a time when they taught another person to develop higher-order thinking skills in a particular content – and then listen to how well they organize and explain their answers – can provide relevant data about their potential teaching effectiveness. Likewise, inviting a teacher leader in the applicant’s content area to participate in the interview may help sample the applicant’s depth of content


Journal for Effective Schools - Spring 2013  

Vol. 11, #1