Personally, I get tired of the knee-jerk teacher bashing that often occurs when people compare U.S. student achievement to that in other countries. It is true that by many measures, U.S. education results lag behind those of other developed nations. But, guess what? There are good reasons for that, and those reasons suggest tangible, attainable solutions for education leaders.
Linda Darling-Hammond writes in To Close the Achievement Gap, We Need to Close the Teaching Gap, “Now we have international evidence about something that has a greater effect on learning than testing: Teaching.”
Take a look at her article, and you’ll see that Darling-Hammond presents a compelling case that—beyond teaching—it’s the context within which we ask teachers to work that is the key to student achievement. She bases her conclusions on the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), recently released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Key influences on student achievement include:
Drawing on TALIS findings, Darling-Hammond suggests:
The reality is that nearly 25 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty and suffer from all the related stressors. Within this context, it’s up to education leaders to advocate for—and provide—what’s needed.
A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.