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.

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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.

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Teacher Bonuses are Another Failed Scheme from New York

Save Our Schools has accused the Prime Minister of adopting another failed reform from her ‘hero’ from New York, former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Trevor Cobbold, National Convenor of SOS, said that the research evidence shows that bonuses do not improve student results and will be a huge waste of money. Continue reading “Teacher Bonuses are Another Failed Scheme from New York”

Teacher Bonuses Fail to Improve Student Results

A research brief published by the public education group, Save Our Schools, says that Labor and Liberal claims that teacher bonuses will improve student achievement is not supported by research evidence.

SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the proposed bonuses will be a huge waste of money and encourage more teaching to the test in schools.

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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”

Why Merit Pay Won’t Work

The subject today is merit pay. This is an important topic because it has become clear that President Obama has decided to hang his hat on this idea.

It has not yet been explained just what he means by merit pay. Does he mean that teachers should be paid more for teaching in what is euphemistically called “hard-to-staff” schools? Or paid more for teaching in areas where there are shortages, like certain kinds of special education or subjects such as math and science? Or paid more for mentoring other teachers? Or paid more for teaching longer days?

I would call such compensation “performance pay,” rather than “merit pay,” because teachers are paid more for doing more.

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