Fire 80% of Teachers?

Edujobs and recalling laid off teachers aside, the emphasis in education reform these days is on teacher quality. Research clearly shows how important good teaching and great teachers are to student success. So how many teachers need to be fired and replaced before the American education system recovers and can compete globally again?

How Many Teachers Does It Take?

Researchers from Dartmouth decided to find out. They constructed simulation based on everything known about what makes great teachers great. And they ran the numbers.

And The Magic Number?

Just about everyone.

Turns out 80% of teachers need to be fired at some point in their first two years on the job in order to ensure no child is being left in a classroom with an ineffective instructor.

And it gets worse.

Building the Perfect Teacher

With all that we known about what makes a teacher good at what he/she does, no one knows how to teach teachers to be great educators.

The ability to teach, it seems, is as mysterious in orgin as reaching the perfect pitch, painting a masterpiece, or having impossibly symmetrical facial features.

Teachers are born and honed, but they can’t be made out of a pig’s ear.

Which leaves us with the problem of convincing people with an ability to go into the profession, and once in, persuade them to stay. Half of all new teachers quit on their own during their first five years on the job.


Some reformers see Race to the Top as the way to foster real reform and allow smaller success stories access to funds and an audience eager to learn about what they’ve done to improve student success.

But Race to the Top winners haven’t been chosen yet. And when they are, it will take time for the winning states to implement their plans, gather results and analyze data. Given the country’s current mood, time is not something they are likely to get.

What Do You Think?

Are 80% of teachers really incompetent? Can great teachers actually be spotted out of the gate? What would the profession look like if 8 out of 10 teachers expected to be fired in their first two years on the job? What sorts of teachers would the profession attract? Best and brightest, like law or medical school? Or would teaching positions become harder to fill?



photo credit: More Pink Slips by msbhaven


Eren A.
Eren Ari7 years ago

On Building the Perfect Teacher, the making of great teachers and educators, the following may be inspirational and useful:

Catherine H.
Catherine Hein7 years ago

Great teachers are born that way it is as natral to them as breathing . No one can teach a teacher to be great!

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

So okay, we pay our teachers crap. We give them outdated material. We tie their hands to effectively discipline problem children, and make excuses why kids act up. And we wonder why teachers can't afford to do their jobs, even if they want to stay?

Carole K.
Carole K7 years ago

I will admit that I have not seen or read of the Dartmouth research supposedly concluding that 80% of teachers need to be fired; but I do know for a fact that half, 50% of all teachers do voluntarily quit/ resign within the first five years of employment. That's 50-80% of a workforce gone before they have even seen a period of five years of experience on the job! How would that translate to any other profession? Would it be recommended that 80% of doctors or lawyers, police officers or firefighters, etc. be terminated for the betterment of the profession? Other professionals would tell you that such a high turnover rate would annihilate the service field & destroy the structure of the professional system. Why would that be any different for teaching as opposed to any other profession?

This just does not make any sense at all! I was a career teacher for over 30 yrs. I believe that's a dinosaur from the past now. Present day teachers are used & thrown out like old workbooks or other consumable materials. I retired several years ago; & I'm glad. I loved my challenging job & all the children & parents I was blessed to serve during my tenure as a teacher; but being an educator in this day & age is asking for a lifetime of disrespect, humiliation & abuse. Perhaps American public education needs to change; but I don't think that's accomplished by firing all the teachers! The USA has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Why is this so?

teresa w.
teresa w.7 years ago

Blaming the teachers for everything that goes wrong with the learning process is an easy way to find an scapegoat to place the blame and get nothing accomplished. Families, Community, Government, and Schools are all part of the education of a child. A poorly funded school will likely have less progress than a well funded one. Families who participate and stimulate the education of their children will have better success. A child who has better opportunities will likely be interested in more learning. Teachers are just one piece of the puzzle, and an important one - making their job harder is likely to keep their interests deviated to a more appreciative professional life. Let's ALL take responsibility for the education of our children.

dusty d.
dusty d.7 years ago

Fire them all. let the parents educate thier own children at home. we then will get an accurate account of numbers of "poor,bad" teachers. we all have room to talk when we dont do.

Mary B.
Mary Boland7 years ago

One reason we don't get the teachers our kids deserve is that we destroy a lot of good potential at the outset. We take beginning teachers who may have a lot of potential and throw at them huge classes of difficult to control kids , leaving them almost no time for preparation, reflection, or catching their breath. New teachers should have at best a half-time load their first year. Then they would have a chance to develop. Then after a 75% load their second year and a full load their third year, we would know whether they are really good teachers or not. Too often, a new teacher who is sensitive, committed and really cares, is simply overwhelmed their first year and we lose someone who would turn out to be outstanding. While a new teacher with nothing much to offer but a tough skin and gruff manner survives their first year to become an indifferent fixture in the schools for many years.

Maris B.
Maris B7 years ago

It takes a special person to go into teaching these days, knowing full well that education isn't funded the way it used to be and realizing that he/she will probably have to dig into their own pay to purchase supplies for the students and/or class. With overcrowded rooms and the idea of "teaching to the tests" education is a tough field to enter and in which to stay. Teachers can't be blamed for it all; administrators make high salaries and some schools are top heavy w/administrators. With layoffs and budget cuts, defiant kids and uncooperative, accusatory parents, the teachers who care and are passionate, who stay year after year should be commended.

Ashley N.
Ashley N7 years ago

Get rid of the crummy teachers. Even kids know who they are. I had a lot of teachers who did nothing. I also had brilliant teachers and these two groups got paid about the same. Fire the crappy ones and bring back the laid off good teachers.

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago