Student Achievement in Teacher Selection, TeacherMatch
Teacher Hiring

4 Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Teacher Hiring Tool

By: Matt Curtis, Ph.D., Chief Product Officer for TeacherMatch

High performing schools must hire the best teachers each and every time.  Many have come to realize that “teacher screening is vital to making the hiring process fair, productive and time efficient” (Vitale, 2009).  The use of teacher hiring tools or assessments reveals a wealth of research-based, objective information that is rarely discernible in the resume, reference checks or other components of the hiring process.

While there are several products designed to support schools in hiring the most effective teachers, not all teacher selection instruments are the same.

Schools should closely consider the following four factors before deciding which teacher hiring tool will best support them in hiring the best teachers each and every time. 

1) Conceptual Framework 

Teacher effectiveness is a complex issue that can be defined and explored in a countless number of ways. Hiring tools, for teacher hiring While most teacher hiring assessments have approached teacher efficacy almost exclusively from an attitudinal perspective, a myriad of factors above and beyond one’s attitudes and/or beliefs are essential to effective teaching.  How many domains or “success indicators” does the hiring instrument account for?

2) Research Design

It is important to consider the research base that the teacher hiring tool is grounded upon.  What methods and procedures were used to define the construct of “teacher effectiveness” and evaluate the instrument’s ability to accurately predict for it? Key questions to ask include:

  • How is “teacher effectiveness” being defined?  How adequate is this definition?
  • What, specifically, does the hiring tool claim to measure? Does the instrument measure what it purports to measure?
  • Does the teacher hiring assessment truly predict teacher effectiveness in terms that are most essential to your district or school’s mission?
  • How were the items comprising the instrument constructed? By whom?
  • What is the background, training, and experiences of those involved in the research?
  • How scientific or “experimental” is the research underpinning the instrument?
  • What evidence, if any, was collected to substantiate that the teacher hiring tool is effective in truly differentiating highly effective teachers from less effective teachers?
  • How representative was the research sample?

3) Predictive Validity 

The most important point to consider before purchasing a teacher hiring tool is how effective the instrument will be in enabling your district or school to hire the right teachers. The instrument’s predictive validity is therefore an essential and extremely revealing feature.

The instrument’s predictive validity, or ability to predict future teacher performance as defined by a pre-specified measure, is typically represented by a correlation coefficient.  The correlation coefficient quantifies how strong the relationship between the candidate’s score on the instrument and his or her future performance is. A teacher selection instrument with a correlation coefficient of 0 would be worthless as that would mean the candidate’s score on the selection instrument is completely unrelated to his or her future performance.  A teacher selection instrument with a correlation coefficient of 1, on the other hand, would be a veritable crystal ball as a candidate’s score would fully reveal his or her future performance in each and every case. Validity coefficients greater than .3 are generally considered to add significant value to the hiring process.Student Achievement in Teacher Selection, TeacherMatch

The limited range of independent research studies that have examined most of the commercial teacher hiring assessments to date have typically found that there is little to no correlation between a teacher’s score on these most of these instruments and the academic growth of his or her students.

4) Iterative/Machine Learning

Is the hiring instrument designed to determine which specific skills, abilities, dispositions, experiences and knowledge are most essential to effective teaching in your specific context?  Most hiring instruments maintain a general and static view of teacher effectiveness. As a result, these hiring instruments are incapable of providing school districts the up-to-date information and timely intelligence that is required to make increasingly insightful and refined hiring decisions over time. Hiring a teacher, teacher hiringIt is now possible, however, to link candidates’ responses to post-employment performance so that a tightly knitted, contemporary feedback loop is established thereby enabling incremental refinements which will strengthen the instrument’s predictive potency over time within a unique context.


A properly designed and robustly researched teacher hiring tool stands to increase the objectivity and insight of the hiring process while increasing the likelihood that we hire the right teachers as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What methods and practices does your school or district currently use to determine which candidates should be advanced from the applicant pool to the more resource-intensive stages of the hiring process for more comprehensive consideration and which should not?  How confident are you that the resume and other application materials that candidates typically submit have consistently enabled you to hone in on the select group that are most deserving of further consideration?  Would you be willing to explore how a teacher hiring assessment might improve your hiring process while saving you valuable time and energy?

Want to learn about the differences between the Educator’s Professional Inventory, TeacherInsight, and TeacherFit?  Download our Teacher Hiring Tool Comparison white pager that compares 3 of the top teacher hiring assessments currently available in regards to the factors discussed above. 

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