The long-term health of each state’s economy rests on the state’s ability to educate and eventually employ citizens who contribute to its economy by filling jobs in a variety of sectors. With the globalization of the economy and shifts in supply and demand for a wide variety of occupations, students in public schools need effective teachers and effective principals to achieve at higher levels and to compete both nationally and internationally.

Teacher effectiveness is the primary influence on student achievement, followed by principal effectiveness.1 Given this reality, state efforts to improve student achievement should focus on workforce policies and practices, and on workforce funding decisions that improve the quality of the education workforce. To do this, governors should consider a comprehensive human capital approach that strategically invests in teachers and principals and that, in turn, can improve student outcomes.

Governors should consider two approaches when adopting a comprehensive human capital approach to build a high-quality education workforce. The first is a cost-neutral approach that includes the redistribution of funds from ineffective human capital investments that do not result in student achievement gains to investments that are more strategic in nature and that show promise in terms of their effectiveness. This approach requires an examination of state policies, regulations, and legislation that pertain to the public education workforce.