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Teacher responsibility

Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial:

"The biggest revolution caused by No Child Left Behind is the revolution in education research," says Georgia State University’s Gary Henry, a scholar in educational policy and evaluation. "We are getting better at figuring out what works. But what we are seeing is almost nothing that has a very large effect."

Even when the research shows a gain, it’s a very small gain produced under the best of circumstances. That’s because most reforms only tug at the edges and don’t address central flaws in public education: A teacher’s track record of improving student performance is hidden from public view, and that performance is not used as a factor in teacher salaries.

Researchers agree that the most reliable predictor of teacher success is past success. So what parents ought to look for is a teacher who has demonstrated gains in student scores from one year to the next. That track record is more telling than a teacher’s academic credentials or experience. Yet, parents never see that crucial piece of the puzzle.

"We should, as parents, have that full data," says Henry. "We have the capacity here in Georgia to make that data available. Basically, it is a flip of a switch. That would empower parents to really be active."

Apparently, that’s just what schools fear, a flood of active parents armed with data showing that Ms. X raises test scores year after year and Mr. Y does not. Because that would force schools to do something about Mr. Y— either offer him professional development or suggest a career change.

Meanwhile, Ken De Rosa examines a report on a Charlotte high school and notes this comment:

As the school year draws to a close, the principal is still pushing a two-pronged mission: Get students to take responsibility for their own success. And get teachers to believe in students. (emphasis added)

Ken’s commentary:

So, the students have to take responsibility for learning while the teachers don’t quite have to take responsibility for teaching. They just have to "believe in students." I suppose believing is better than nothing.

I’m wondering how a student is supposed to take responsibility for learning if the teaching isn’t any good. Isn’t good teaching, which starts with teachers taking responsibility for teaching well, a prerequisite to any student learning?