Research

How to assess potential to teach: Data Insights report provides new evidence

Over the past two years, we have conducted the first two stages of a research project looking at the effectiveness of an education assessment centre and its ability to predict teacher effectiveness. Following our first report published in 2020, we have now published an update report for 2021, which accounts for the additional data we have gathered on our Future Teaching Scholars’ later classroom performance.

Recruiting and retaining excellent teachers remains a pressing policy issue in education systems worldwide. According to UNESCO estimates, 68.8 million teachers will need to be recruited globally to meet Sustainable Development Goal 4. However, simply recruiting more teachers will not be enough to meet this challenge: we need to recruit high-quality teachers who provide high-quality lessons to improve learner outcomes – and who will remain in the teaching profession. The high number of teachers who leave teaching early in their careers means that there is a crisis in teacher retention, and high staff turnover constitutes a major drain on the resources available to develop a strong education system. As part of our commitment to research and development, we have invested in the review of our Future Teaching Scholars Assessment Centres. Our Data Insights reports examine the Assessment Centres' validity and reliability, and correlations between candidates’ performance in different aspects of the initial assessment and later classroom performance.

As part of the recruitment and selection process for the Department of Education’s Future Teaching Scholars (FTS) programme, which seeks to recruit high-quality maths and physics teachers in England, Education Development Trust designed and implemented an education assessment centre. This is a common tool in recruitment in the UK, but there is a lack of studies on their use, validity and reliability in education. 

The assessment centre involves a competency-based interview, a reflective activity and a group problem-solving exercise. In addition, it uses classroom roleplays, assessed by two practitioners – one of whom is a serving subject-specific teacher from an outstanding Teaching School – which seeks to measure a candidate’s innate ‘mental set’ prior to teaching.

The evidence from this evaluation provides important information that could help schools, middle-tier organisations and governments to select teachers more effectively. In particular, the evidence pointed to the importance of including a classroom simulation activity (where the candidate teaches part of a lesson to assessors) rather than just relying on what teachers say about themselves in interview.

Importantly, this is the first academic study of an education assessment centre and includes an evaluation of the assessment centre’s predictive validity (the ability of the assessment centre score to predict later teaching ability).

 

Key content covered in the Data Insights Report

  • The teacher recruitment context
  • The structure of the Future Teaching Scholars assessment centre
  • The validity and reliability of the assessment centre
  • Evidence related to later classroom performance and retention.