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 few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.
As the former Vice President of Education and Program Operations, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director, of a large Chicago Agency, I am often asked the question, “How did you get your CLASS scores to rise so much?” Our Pre-K Instructional Support scores rose from a 2.65 to a 3.74 the first year, and from a 3.74 to a 4.17 the second year. It wasn’t an easy process. And it was up to us to show our teachers the importance of teacher-student interactions and slowly introduce how CLASS scores could be used to improve these interactions.
Below are three steps we took to introduce the importance of CLASS and interactions to our teachers and, ultimately, raise our CLASS scores.
When my first child was born, I was 30. I was also married, had a master’s degree, and taught in a district that paid pretty well. During my pregnancy, I learned what to look for in high-quality child care and I thought I knew how to find it. What I didn’t know was that even though my husband and I both worked, we couldn’t afford quality child care.