One company claims that it can accurately predict how effective a teacher will be before they are hired.
Launched four years ago, TeacherMatch believes its Educators Professional Inventory, a tool used to screen prospective hires, can accurately tell if a teacher will be able to increase student test scores.
PeopleAdmin, the company responsible for human-resource software that it claims is used by school districts to hire one out of every three teachers in the country, said that it purchased TeacherMatch. The company plans to provide its clients with access to the screening tool.
PeopleAdmin CEO Kermit Randa said the two companies follow similar philosophies, describing them both as "disruptive force for good, a way to go out and do well with technology."
"At the end of the day you want to get the best people, you want to get them up to speed as fast as possible, you want to engage them and have them perform at their best," Randa said.
However, many in the education field continue to wonder if the product is really as good as it claims to be. Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said it would be impossible to find out because its survey and algorithms are secret.
TeacherMatch was co-founded by two former Chicago Public Schools officials. Donald Fraynd was a principal in the district who then built the school turnaround office for Chicago, while Ron Huberman was a private equity manager who served as CEO of Chicago schools in 2009 and 2010.
According to Huberman, the company employed researchers to analyze large quantities of data on student performance in order to find those teachers who continuously had students who made large gains on standardized tests, as well as those teachers whose students did not.
The company then surveyed both types of teachers in an effort to determine patterns in the way questions were answered about a number of topics, such as how they would handle misbehavior in the classroom or how they would teach an academic standard.
Huberman went on to say that while an applicant's survey score should be taken into account during the hiring process, he said districts should not base their decision completely on this score.
"We're delighted to join forces with a leader like PeopleAdmin, who is as passionate about empowering teachers as we are," Huberman said. "As we focus on tackling our greatest education management challenges, we have the opportunity as one organization to build on our innovative, data-informed solutions — and lead the way in improving human capital practices, advancing teacher effectiveness, and increasing student achievement in school districts throughout North America."
Jason Hammond, human resources director at Phoenix Elementary School District Number 1, said that all prospective teachers in the district are required to fill out a TeacherMatch survey. Scores received are then used to rank the applicants. Those who earn higher scores are typically given more consideration, writes Emma Brown for The Chicago Tribune.
Hammond said the district began using TeacherMatch three years ago when it was having trouble retaining quality teachers. Since it began using the software, teacher turnover has declined, and Hammond said he has seen a connection between scores received on TeacherMatch and classroom effectiveness.