Teacher Unions Benefit Schools and Students

Strong teacher unions are critical to improving equity in school funding according to a new study published in the academic journal Review of Economics and Statistics. They also play a major role in translating funding increases into increases in student achievement.

Continue reading “Teacher Unions Benefit Schools and Students”

Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships

If you ask a group of educators, from any sector what is the most important feature of successful teacher/student interaction invariably you get the answer relationships.  And I would agree.  However, personal relationships are hard work even when both parties are committed to having such a connection.  It is a challenge when the relationship you need is between a teacher and an angry, oppositional student.  It is obvious that it will be up to that teacher to build that relationship, not only is that connection a prerequisite for engagement, how else are they going to participate, it really is an ethical duty.

Continue reading “Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships”

Who is for teaching?

What conclusion can be drawn from the Turnbull government’s announcement that a national review of teacher registration, will examine ways in which the process for becoming a teacher around Australia will be streamlined in order to make it easier for people in the trades and other professions to switch careers? It begs the question of why aren’t teachers being encouraged to rapidly retrain as tradies, nurses or for other professions, to fill skill shortages in rural Australia? Continue reading “Who is for teaching?”

Teach for Australia Fails in its Mission

An evaluation report on the fast-track teacher training program, Teach for Australia (TFA), raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the program. It shows that TFA teachers are not being placed in genuinely disadvantaged schools and a high proportion leave teaching within three years of completing the program. It calls for changes to increase retention such as longer placement lengths, or incentives for TFA teachers to stay in disadvantaged classrooms. There are also serious questions about the cost effectiveness of TFA and its impact on student outcomes.

Continue reading “Teach for Australia Fails in its Mission”

Australia Has High Quality Teaching but Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching

There was much wringing of hands at the continuing decline in Australia’s reading, mathematics and science results revealed by the results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published last December. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of constructive analysis of the factors behind the declines.

Continue reading “Australia Has High Quality Teaching but Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching”

Australia Has High Quality Teaching But Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching

There was much wringing of hands at the continuing decline in Australia’s reading, mathematics and science results revealed by the results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published last December. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of constructive analysis of the factors behind the declines.

Continue reading “Australia Has High Quality Teaching But Too Much Out-of-Field Teaching”

The De-Professionalization of Teaching

Competition and choice policies in education are leading to the de-professionalization of teaching. A policy brief published by the US National Education Policy Centre titled Reversing the Deprofessionalization of Teaching says that it is being driven by fast-track teacher preparation, teacher evaluation based on student test scores and the use of scripted, narrow curricula.

Continue reading “The De-Professionalization of Teaching”

Reflections on Teaching: The Craft of Teaching

School teaching is a craft. A school teacher is an adult in a room full of children and the task is to look after the children, supervise their social behaviour, and give them skills and knowledge.

When I use the word ‘craft’, I don’t mean making things out of seashells. I mean an activity that involves using skill to achieve a practical end. You learn how to teach by doing it. Parenting skills are probably the most valuable skills to have. There are many teaching methods and every teaching situation is different, so a teacher needs to have many techniques and must constantly be thinking about which ones to use.

Continue reading “Reflections on Teaching: The Craft of Teaching”

Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides

At the end of July, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced that grants worth $4.35 billion would be made available to states to further education change. Called the Race to the Top Fund, it is the largest-ever single federal investment in school reform.

As a condition of funding, the states are required to address four core reforms to increase student achievement and narrow achievement gaps. They are: common, internationally benchmarked standards and assessments; effective teachers and principals; data to inform decisions; and turnarounds of the lowest-performing schools.

The most controversial aspect is using student test results to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and principals and to determine compensation and promotions, tenure and removal. Duncan stated that linking teacher and student test data is “absolutely fundamental—it’s a building block”.

The proposal has generated widespread criticism from a wide range of academics and former education officials. They provide a very compelling case that the proposal is unsupported by research and will likely have significant unintended consequences for student learning. Continue reading “Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides”

Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading

It seems that performance pay based on gains in student achievement may not be so good at identifying good teachers as its advocates claim.

It has been delivered a body blow by a major new study published in the United States. The study shows that “value-added” methods for determining the effectiveness of classroom teachers are built on very shaky assumptions and may be highly unreliable and misleading. Continue reading “Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading”