Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Educational Leadership


This paper examines the prevailing notion of teacher quality today. While there is wide agreement that teachers are the primary factor in schools determining student achievement, there is disagreement about which attributes constitute a high-quality teacher. Different approaches to improving teaching spring from different conceptualizations of capability. Since teacher quality consists of particular abilities that allow teachers to excel in their work, we need to understand how the abilities of high quality teachers are acquired, maintained and expanded, or, conversely, how these abilities are unrealized, arrested and diminished. The Strategic Management of Human Capital (SMHC) project represents the dominant approach to improving teacher quality in education policy today. Using Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's capability approach as a comparative framework, it is argued that SMHC holds a far too narrow conception of capability, resulting in an inadequate evaluation system, overly tight management of teachers' work, and ultimately the maintenance of a broken education policy process. In contrast, the capability approach offers a broad understanding of ability, which allows for a rethinking of teacher quality and education policy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.