Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Solution to Teacher Quality

Steve Peha, who usually has great judgement, embarked on writing one of the most ambitious articles that I've seen in awhile.  Published in the Washington Post, he attempted to provide a reasonable approach to addressing teacher quality: A 'doable' solution to teacher quality.

He basically points out that some people focus on the bad teachers but that it is very difficult to do much about the bottom 5%.  He also highlights the importance of holding onto and rewarding the great teachers which is also worthwhile but difficult.

He focuses on improving teaching of the average teachers which is the great majority.  As he puts it:

Helping average teachers won’t make headlines, but making even small gains in the effectiveness of 75%-90% of our teaching corps would have a significant effect on student achievement.
And it’s doable.

Nobody needs to get fired. Nobody has to reinvent school. Nobody has to raise taxes to expand the social safety net. We merely need to address the common problems average teachers face by providing optimized solutions that make learning better for children and teaching easier for them.
I, for one, think that we need to address all these issues but that Steve is basically right, the biggest simplest solution is to focus on basic teacher training.  Another person who greatly agrees with Steve Peha, and a good person to have in your corner, is Bill Gates.  He points out that useful PD that helps coach teachers to improve their practice is sorely lacking and easily solved. So he's solving it.