Remember the excitement about using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness? Remember Raj Chetty, who expected to win a Nobel Prize for his research on teacher effectiveness tied to test scores? Remember the heated debate about whether a single teacher could produce huge lifetime gains in earnings? Remember when reformers confidently asserted that they knew how to identify the best and worst teachers (by the rise or fall of student scores)? Remember the starry-eyed predictions that schools would get rid of all the “bad” teachers and would soon have only “great” teachers. The architects of Obama’s Race to the Top were so impressed by these claims that they required states to change their laws to require this method of evaluating teachers. Most such laws are still in force.

A new study by the Rand Institute finds that this initiative failed. The Gates Foundation spent $575 million to implement this policy and it produced nothing, other than to discourage teachers from working with the neediest students.

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat reports:

“Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address reflected the heady moment in education. “We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000,” he said. “A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.”

“Bad teachers were the problem; good teachers were the solution. It was a simplified binary, but the idea and the research it drew on had spurred policy changes across the country, including a spate of laws establishing new evaluation systems designed to reward top teachers and help weed out low performers.

“Behind that effort was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which backed research and advocacy that ultimately shaped these changes.

“It also funded the efforts themselves, specifically in several large school districts and charter networks open to changing how teachers were hired, trained, evaluated, and paid. Now, new research commissioned by the Gates Foundation finds scant evidence that those changes accomplished what they were meant to: improve teacher quality or boost student learning.

“The 500-plus page report by the Rand Corporation, released Thursday, details the political and technical challenges of putting complex new systems in place and the steep cost — $575 million — of doing so.

“The post-mortem will likely serve as validation to the foundation’s critics, who have long complained about Gates’ heavy influence on education policy and what they call its top-down approach.

“The report also comes as the foundation has shifted its priorities away from teacher evaluation and toward other issues, including improving curriculum.“

In 2012,Melinda Gates claimed on the PBS Newshour that the Gates Foundation already had the knowledge to assure that there was an effective teacher in every classroom. She believed it. It wasn’t true.

Does the Gates Foundation ever learn or does it just break dishes and move on?