Archive for July 5, 2011

Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? Prepare teachers vs. Test students

Really interesting piece that argues against the US approach of getting smart teachers into the classrooms quickly, then checking them with standardized tests and credentialing.  Instead, most of the rest of the world (and in particular, countries that get better results than the US) makes it hard to get credentials to teach, then gives the teachers significant autonomy.  The results there are smart, prepared teachers who don’t worry about standardized tests — and who succeed.

You can see how these international examples cut against the grain of U.S. education reform. Our approach has largely borrowed the Teach for America model. First, we attempt to bring more elite college graduates into the teaching profession by decreasing the credentialing necessary to become a teacher: no student-teaching year or education degree required, just a few weeks of summertime training are supposed to suffice. Then we expect teachers to spend much of their time preparing children for standardized tests, whose results, in turn, will be used to judge teachers’ competency.

The NCEE report makes a persuasive case that the Obama administration and its allies in the standards-and-accountability school reform movement have teaching policy exactly backward. The way to increase the prestige of the teaching profession is not to make it easier for elite people to do the job for a few years and then burn out, but to make it more challenging to earn a teaching credential so that smart young people are attracted to the rigor of education programs. Within such a system, alternative credentialing programs for career changers could still play an important role. But it’s important to realize that alternative pathways will never have the capacity to provide the entire teacher corps.

via Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post.

July 5, 2011 at 9:22 am 2 comments


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