Can a Commercial Screening Tool Help Select Better Teachers?

Authors: Olivia L Chi, Boston University; Matthew Lenard, Harvard University 

Project Summary

When looking to hire a new teacher, districts can receive anywhere from dozens to hundreds of applications per vacancy. This can require significant time and effort as school leaders wade through the resume stack in order to find a teacher who will be most effective in the classroom. So, when a popular software company offers a product that screens and prioritizes candidates for review, it’s an attractive option—particularly when a district already utilizes that company’s other software in its hiring process. This paper looks at whether the scores from one such product, Frontline Education’s TeacherFit Instrument, predict later teacher performance and student outcomes.

Results suggest that the TeacherFit commercial screening tool is not necessarily a substitute for the promising, but labor intensive, screening processes that are conducted by human resources officials as detailed in other studies. Overall, they suggest districts proceed with caution before making a big investment in these products. More specifically, Chi & Lenard study the outcomes associated with individuals who took this screening test and were then employed in the Wake Country Public Schools and find the following:

  • Scores positively predict teachers evaluation ratings

  • Higher scores on the screening tool are associated with a greater chance that a teacher will leave the school and district the following year

  • There was no detectable relationship between scores on the TeacherFit instrument and student test score outcomes.

Project Resources

Policy Brief