In an op-ed published in the Washington Post this morningand addressed to the nation's governors, who are gathering in D.C. this week for their annual meetingBill Gates points to the impact that excellent teachers have on student achievement and argues that tight education budgets would be best spent on leveraging their expertise and creating more of them. Saying that other popular school-improvements initiatives (e.g., class-size reductions, increases in teacher pay for advanced degrees) have proved to be expensive dead-ends, he offers a sample policy prescription:
What should policymakers do? One approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to give the top teachers a raise. (In a 2008 survey funded by the Gates Foundation, 83 percent of teachers said they would be happy to teach more students for more pay.) The rest of the savings could go toward improving teacher support and evaluation systems, to help more teachers become great.