About the Study

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) recognizes that a teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor controlled by school systems1 and that dramatically improving education means ensuring that every student has an effective teacher in every classroom every school year.

Across the US, school districts are trying to define and measure effective teaching. Much attention has been paid to the evaluative aspects of this work, while little has been focused on the opportunity for the feedback introduced into these school systems to improve performance. In the absence of useful feedback, teachers’ careers stall in their 3rd or 4th year. Many disengage or leave the education system. Those left behind remain demoralized by few incentives, insufficient guidance and lack of professional learning opportunities. In the current system, both teachers and students lose.

There is a body of research about formal professional development—including coursework, workshops, and long-term coaching engagements. There is far less research about feedback in the form of written data, conversations with managers, or self-reflection. We know that feedback from valid evaluation measures can lead to improved performance, even without formal professional development. We know far less about how to structure that feedback for maximum impact. To this end, BMGF contracted the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) to better understand the feedback that teachers receive, in what ways that feedback is shared, and under what conditions the feedback impacts teacher performance (both negatively and positively).

This website summarizes the major themes and insights to emerge from web and fieldwork conducted with 66 teachers from across the U.S. and a variety of school systems. What follows is a robust qualitative understanding related to teacher feedback which can improve teacher effectiveness and the learning experience and a series of opportunity spaces signaling both potential areas of investment and solution areas for prototyping and piloting.

1 Steven G. Rivkin, Eric A. Hanushek, and John F. Kain, “Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement,” Econometrica, Vol. 73, No. 2 (March 2005), pages 417– 458.

Download the Report

A PDF version of the report is available here. Download the document (6MB).