Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Limits of teacher quality

What can an excellent teacher do about a child who needs glasses, has cavities, and/or is hungry?

To say that teacher quality is the most important variable in education is at best ignorant and at worst a lie.

This isn't the same as saying teacher quality doesn't matter -- it really does.

Diane Ravitch puts it this way:

Since Arne Duncan became Secretary of Education and unleashed the Race to the Top, almost every state has adopted laws to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students. Most teachers know that this is unfair because the factors that have the greatest influence on students’ test scores are not within the control of teachers. Reformers tell us that teachers are the most important influence within the school on student scores, and that is right. But the teacher contribution to scores is dwarfed by the influence of family and other out of school factors.

4 comments:

  1. I'm warry of my own resignation to the limits of my ability to help students learn. Thoughtful teachers work with the constant tension between accepting the limits of their influence and the drive to find a way to overcome the factors outside a school's control. You succeed when you free yourself from rigid policy and rules. You don't can't find the solutions to out of school factors if you think you are the only decision maker. Every successful attempt I had overcoming out of school factors hampering learning came about because the student worked with me to create the solution. I'll add that I feel like there were more failures than successes.

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  2. The point is also where can teacher's make the difference - test scores or making a kid feek different about himself and cared for

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  3. The point is also where can teacher's make the difference - test scores or making a kid feek different about himself and cared for

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  4. Allan Katz, I loved your accidental use of the word "feek" which I read as "freek". I agree with your observation.

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