Thursday, September 20, 2012

Help wanted: High-performing teachers need not apply

As the Chicago teacher’s strike carries into its second week, many interesting facts are coming to light. We know the average Chicago public school teacher earns more than $71,000. What makes this figure interesting is that on average, Chicago Public School teachers only scored a 19 on the ACT. That is lower than the national average of 21.1 and the Illinois average of 20.9 (see here). The question is not why are teachers earning so much, but why are we attracting so many below average individuals in terms of academic aptitude into the classroom and so few high-performing ones?

Like Chicago, the difficulty of attracting high-quality individuals into the classroom is a problem we face here in Missouri. Teachers score lower than average on a number of standardized tests, includingthe SAT, the GRE, and the Armed Forces Qualification Test (see here). A study using Missouri data found that 20 percent of teachers scored a 19 or lower on the ACT and 69.6 percent scored a 24 or lower.

There are number of issues that perpetuate this problem of below average individuals entering the classroom. For starters, schools seemingly do a poor job of seeking out high-performing individuals.

In a recent study I co-authored for the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas, we examined the application documents of 50 randomly selected Arkansas school districts. What we found was pretty alarming. More schools asked teachers what high school they attended (67 percent) than how they did on the teacher licensure exams (13 percent). Approximately half asked for the applicant’s GPA and none asked for ACT or SAT scores. Certainly scoring higher on a test does not necessarily make you a better teacher, but there is ample evidence to suggest higher-scoring individuals are higher-performing teachers.

Even if schools did request academic information from applicants, they would have little leverage to attract high-performing individuals. The single-salary schedule, which is in place in almost all public schools in Missouri, does not allow administrators to pay individuals more for their aptitude or their potential for being a great teacher. In essence, we get below-average teachers because we treat all the above-average ones like they are . . . average.


English adults 'put off education for life' after failing 11-plus exam

What is not mentioned below is that many who failed SHOULD have been put off further education.  There has to come a time when some realize that they are not going to benefit from more education and it may be better to learn that at age 11 rather than after one has done a "soft" degree that gains you nothing but debts

Almost a third of adults have been left permanently scarred by the experience of failing grammar school entrance exams at the age of 11, according to new research.

Figures show that 30 per cent of people were put off education and training well into middle-age following a poor result in the 11-plus, it was revealed.

Some adults claimed that low scores in entrance tests acted as an “albatross around their neck” for more than 40 years because of the shame of being branded a failure at the end of primary education.

The disclosure – in a survey of more than 1,000 adults aged 50 and over – comes amid continuing controversy over academic selection in the state education system.

Most grammar schools across England were converted into mixed-ability comprehensives in the 60s and 70s, although 164 remain across the country.

Existing grammars are still hugely popular among parents and some gain as many as 10 applications for every place.

But the scramble to secure grammar school admissions has led to claims that children are being put under too much pressure at a young age.

Previous studies have shown that more than half of children are given private tutoring for 11-plus exams and some parents start preparing sons and daughters from the age of five.

But new research by Love to Learn, a website offering online courses for adults aged 50-plus, found that the legacy of grammar school entrance exams still had a powerful impact on people 40 years on.

Of those who failed the 11-plus, 36 per cent said they still “lacked the confidence” to undertake further education and training courses, while 13 per cent insisted the experience “put them off learning for life”.

Some 45 per cent of adults with poor 11-plus results said they still carried “negative feelings with them into their fifties, sixties and beyond”, it was revealed.

Gill Jackson, the website’s director, said over-50s had “greater freedom and financial security and they are eager to learn new things which appeal to them”.

“For many though, learning stopped as soon as they left school due to the lack of ongoing opportunities, the need to start earning money or because they were getting married or wanted to start a family,” she said.


The charter school revolution comes to Australia

They're charter schools in the USA and academies in Britain but the concept is the same:  Escaping the educational bureaucracy and the teachers' unions

QUEENSLAND'S first Independent Public Schools have been announced, heralding a new and potentially controversial era in state education.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said 26 schools had been chosen for the first round of Independent Public Schools, which would be given more autonomy than their state counterparts.

Only 30 schools applied for 30 available positions, with just 26 granted, after the Queensland Teachers' Union "strongly" advised principals not to take part.

The QTU had threatened industrial action earlier this year and warned it could create a two-tier state school system turning hard-to-staff schools into impossible-to-staff schools.

Under the changes, principals gain the power to recruit all staff, control their budget and school councils can liaise directly with local industry.

Mr Langbroek said he believed local school communities, parents, teachers and principals knew what was best for their children.

"Independent Public Schools will have the freedom to directly recruit teachers and to build a team that is able to deliver innovative educational practices and have more autonomy to manage infrastructure and financial resources," Mr Langbroek said.

Each school gets $50,000 to assist with the change and an extra $50,000 in funding each year for administration.

"I have no doubt that after the first year, when these 26 schools have experienced the benefits of greater autonomy, we'll see many more schools come forward to become Independent Public Schools," Mr Langbroek said.

Palm Beach Currumbin State High executive principal Stephen Loggie said IPS would enable their excellence programs in academic, cultural and sporting areas to grow.

"It gives them their opportunity to evolve to the next level because IPS removes some of the red tape around the way schools are run and it gives more power to the local community to make decisions that are in their interest," he said.

The 26 include the flagship Brisbane State High School, School of Excellence Palm Beach Currumbin High and Kirwan and Smithfield state high schools in north Queensland.

Primary schools include Ashgrove, Miles, Aldridge, Banksia Beach and McDowall state schools, and Tagai State College in the Torres Strait.

The program will extend to 120 schools over four years.


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