It's no secret that one of the keys to creating better schools is to raise the quality of teaching in the nation's classrooms. But how to identify, and encourage, high-quality teaching is proving to be a challenge.

Several efforts to address this question are under way. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just launched a five-year, $500 million initiative to quantify what, exactly, makes a teacher effective and how to tie that to student achievement (see story). And the Obama administration has cited improving teacher quality as one of four education-reform areas it plans to target in particular....

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