USA Today (8/4, Toppo) interviews journalist Elizabeth Green whose new book Building a Better Teacher is out this week. During the interview Green answers questions related to what got her interested in reporting on education, her thoughts on improving teacher quality, and her beliefs about what makes a good teacher.
News from Opening Bell
In a book review on Inside Higher Ed (8/1), Charlie Typson writes that a new book by Elisabeth Green “Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)” is being published this month. Green criticizes what the calls the “myth of the natural-born teacher” and argues that our “education schools” are not doing enough to prepare teachers for the classroom. She says teachers must develop specific skills, including “the ability to understand why students make the mistakes they do; the ability to assess the merits of a textbook or a curriculum for a particular class; the ability to communicate with parents and guardians; and more expertise in their subjects.” Green also calls for more “practice-oriented approach to teacher education,” which she says has been “too divorced from what goes on in real classrooms.”
Stephen Sawchuk writes at the Education Week (3/25) “Teacher Beat” blog that the New American Foundation has released a white paper urging Congress to “require the states to include outcomes-based measures of program quality” when reauthorizing Title II of the Higher Education Act, which “currently requires all colleges preparing teachers to submit ‘report cards’ on teacher preparation and to designate programs as ‘at risk’ or ‘low performing.’”
The New York Times (11/21, Rich, Subscription Publication) reports that ED, in an effort to counter perceptions that teaching is not a desirable career, is partnering with Microsoft, State Farm, the Ad Council, Teach For America, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers to launch “a public service campaign...aimed at recruiting a new generation of classroom educators.” The Times reports that the program, dubbed “Teach,” is intended for “young, high-achieving college graduates,” especially in STEM fields. The campaign, the Times reports, portrays teaching as “creative, invigorating and meaningful.” The AP (11/21, Hefling) also covers this story.
In National Review’s (11/19, Salam) The Agenda, Reihan Salam comments on several articles that indicate a stronger teacher pool is here to stay. He first quotes from a report by Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch which shows that 2008 graduates who went into education “had higher average SAT scores than their peers who entered other occupations.” Salam then moves to Neerav Kingsland’s suggestion that “structural changes in the economy might lead to substantial increases in the quality of the teacher talent pool.” Salam then notes that more can still be done to draw top teaching talent, quoting a Jacob Vigdor analysis of teacher compensation which argued the best way to attract top teachers would be that “rapid early gains in effectiveness would be rewarded with substantial salary increases over the first few years on the job.”
Education Week (11/6, Sawchuk) profiles the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which “has spent nearly $700 million on its teacher-quality agenda,” including “the development of teacher-evaluation systems, district initiatives experimenting with new ways of training and paying teachers, and related research projects,” as well as advocacy groups backing increasing instructional quality as “the key to erasing achievement gaps.” The foundation is “widely seen as the most influential independent actor in a period of nationwide—and deeply contested—experimentation with the fundamentals of the teaching profession,” and many of the ideas it backs, “such as the use of test-score algorithms as part of teachers’ ratings, have become a mainstream part of K-12 education policy.”
THE Journal (10/15) reports that “the National Education Association (NEA) and Teach Plus have selected 53 teachers to become Future of the Profession Fellows.” In a prepared statement, Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA, said, “We are excited to partner with Teach Plus to help build the next generation of teacher leaders. Teachers must take the lead to ensure that every student has a qualified, caring, and effective educator in their classroom. The identified fellows will be instrumental in furthering NEA’s goal of providing great public schools for every student.”
The Boston Globe (10/8, Johnson) reports that notwithstanding the common perception that teacher quality has a causal relationship with student performance, “the true effect of having a great teacher, versus a merely average one, has been difficult to assess.” The piece notes that Harvard economist Gary Chamberlain has published a study finding that “middle-school teachers could have a small, but real influence on whether people attended college and how much they earned at age 28.” However, Chamberlain does not identify discrete factors that increase teacher effectiveness.