Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will Firing 5-10% of Teachers Make Us Finland?

The 5-10% Solution, was written by Matthew di Carlo, and originally published on the Shanker Blog, and then reposted on Valerie Strass' The Answer Sheet.

In the world of education policy, the following assertion has become ubiquitous: If we just fire the bottom 5-10 percent of teachers, our test scores will be at the level of the highest-performing nations, such as Finland. Michelle Rhee likes to make this claim. So does Bill Gates.

The source and sole support for this claim is a calculation by economist Eric Hanushek, which he sketches out roughly in a chapter of the edited volume Creating a New Teaching Profession (published by the Urban Institute). The chapter is called “Teacher Deselection” (“deselection” is a polite way of saying “firing”)

To read the rest, please visit the Shanker Blog or The Answer Sheet.


  1. It seems like firing the bottom 5-10% percent of teachers is a good idea, but will the replacement teachers they bring in be any good?

  2. While we all want the best quality schools and teachers, I'm not convinced that firing the bottom 5-10% is the best solution or that it is even possible.

    We don't currently have any accurate way to compare teachers and I'm not sure we ever could because it would be like comparing apples to oranges (e.g., different student demographics, different content taught, different school climates and policies).

    Even if we wanted to replace large numbers of teachers, it would be impossible to replace them at all, let alone with quality teachers. (See Worst Time Ever to Be a Teacher There aren't enough teacher accreditation programs or professors. And who would want to invest the time and energy to become a teacher with the poor wages, high stress and now low job security?

    Lastly, the issue of bad teachers is really just a red herring. The biggest problem with our schools is not the teachers or schools or even parents, but the poverty that so many kids grow up with. If we really want to see improvements in school outcomes, we need to invest in programs that help kids and families get out of poverty.