Teacher Hiring: Prestige Bias Versus Success Bias


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Some schools hire for teacher prestige.  They like to see master’s degrees, ideally from famous universities.  They like to see years of experience.  They like to see previous employment at expensive private schools.

Some schools hire for track record of success.  They might salivate to hire a teacher with just 2 years of experience, with a bachelor’s degree from a no-name college, because they saw her teach for a week in a summer camp and she was amazing.  Or because a trusted reference says she was great for the last 3 years in her former school.

All the best charter schools in the USA have “success bias.”  Most of them are ANTI-prestige….a Harvard trained educator is less likely to be hired, because of a perception that he will have an inflated opinion of himself, be closed to feedback, and has internalized impractical, ideological approaches to teaching.

Many private schools in the USA have prestige bias.  That is also true in Chinese private schools.  There are some outliers, like Daystar in Beijing, where a former staff member says they sought out top American teachers from non-prestigious high-poverty schools in the USA.

Many traditional USA public schools have neither bias.  They don’t want Harvard.  They don’t even probe for excellence – a candidate who showed careful data on her students’ academic gains might be feared, not relished.   Instead, they have Hiring Committees that search for conformity and pleasantness, a mix of “She’s one of us” and “She would be fun to hang out with at lunch time.”