The question of how to improve our schools has been hung up for a decade now on the question of teacher "quality" and how to measure it. Pouring over the mass of data from standardized tests, education experts have noticed a huge difference from teacher to teacher in how much they raise the test scores of their students. One group of experts says that this is the right measure of teacher quality, but this is resisted by others, especially teachers, who hate the thought of evaluating teaching by that one metric. Now testing guru Thomas Kane is back with a new study of 3,000 elementary school teachers that looked at test scores, student evaluations of the teachers, and how teaching experts judged videos of these teachers in the classroom. The study showed that all of the measures pointed in the same direction: the teachers rated highly by their students, and whose videos were scored highest, were also the ones who raised test scores the most.
I find it especially interesting that the most effective teachers were also rated as more "enjoyable" by their students. Observing my own children, I have noticed a strong correlation between academic problems and whether they are enjoying school; real educational crises only appear when the child is miserable.
The importance of observation is also worth noting. In my teaching career I have only been observed once, and I found it very helpful; I would very much like to be observed again, but universities don't seem to make much use of it.
Interesting interview with Kane about the study; the study itself is here.