An issue on the effects of teacher education on children… looks good

This is the list of contents from the website:

The Future of Children

Volume 17, Number 1, Spring 2007

Excellence in the Classroom

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    Murnane, Richard J. Steele, Jennifer L.

  • What Is the Problem? The Challenge of Providing Effective Teachers for All Children [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Educational accountability — United States.
    • Teachers — Selection and appointment — United States.
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.

    Abstract:Richard Murnane and Jennifer Steele argue that if the United States is to equip its young people with the skills essential in the new economy, high-quality teachers are more important than ever. In recent years, the demand for effective teachers has increased as enrollments have risen, class sizes have fallen, and a large share of the teacher workforce has begun to retire. Women and minorities have more career options than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the many effective teachers who are needed. Moreover, schools are limited in their ability to identify and reward the most effective teachers.

    Perhaps the most urgent problem facing American education, say Murnane and Steele, is the unequal distribution of high-quality teachers. Poor children and children of color are disproportionately assigned to teachers with the least preparation and the weakest academic backgrounds. Teacher turnover is high in schools that serve large shares of poor or nonwhite students because the work is difficult, and the teachers who undertake it are often the least equipped to succeed.

    Murnane and Steele point out that in response to these challenges, policymakers have proposed a variety of policy instruments to increase the supply of effective teachers and distribute those teachers more equitably across schools. Such proposals include across-the-board pay increases, more flexible pay structures such as pay-for-performance, and reduced restrictions on who is allowed to teach. Several of these proposals are already being implemented, but their effectiveness remains largely unknown. To measure how well these policies attract effective teachers to the profession and to the schools that need them most, rigorous evaluations are essential.

    Murnane and Steele also note that policymakers may benefit from looking beyond U.S. borders to understand how teacher labor markets work in other countries. Although policies rooted in one nation’s culture cannot be easily and quickly transplanted into another, it is important to understand what challenges other countries face, what policies they are using, and how well those policies are working to enhance teacher quality and improve student achievement.

      Boyd, Donald, 1955- Goldhaber, Daniel D. Lankford, Hamilton.


    Wyckoff, James Humphrey.

  • The Effect of Certification and Preparation on Teacher Quality [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.
    • Teachers — Training of — United States.
    • Teachers — Certification — United States.

    Abstract:To improve the quality of the teacher workforce, some states have tightened teacher preparation and certification requirements while others have eased requirements and introduced “alternative” ways of being certified to attract more people to teaching. Donald Boyd, Daniel Goldhaber, Hamilton Lankford, and James Wyckoff evaluate these seemingly contradictory strategies by examining how preparation and certification requirements affect student achivement.

    If strong requirements improve student outcomes and deter relatively few potential teachers, the authors say, then they may well be good policy. But if they have little effect on student achievement, if they seriously deter potential teachers, or if schools are able to identify applicants who will produce good student outcomes, then easing requirements becomes a more attractive policy.

    In reviewing research on these issues, the authors find that evidence is often insufficient to draw conclusions. They do find that highly selective alternative route programs can produce effective teachers who perform about the same as teachers from traditional routes after two years on the job. And they find that teachers who score well on certification exams can improve student outcomes somewhat. Limited evidence suggests that certification requirements can diminish the pool of applicants, but there is no evidence on how they affect student outcomes. And the authors find that schools have a limited ability to identify attributes in prospective teachers that allow them to improve student achievement.

    The authors conclude that the research evidence is simply too thin to have serious implications for policy. Given the enormous investment in teacher preparation and certification and given the possibility that these requirements may worsen student outcomes, the lack of convincing evidence is disturbing. The authors urge researchers and policymakers to work together to move to a more informed position where good resource decisions can be made.

    Hanushek, Eric Alan, 1943- Rivkin, Steven G. (Steven Gary), 1961-

  • Pay, Working Conditions, and Teacher Quality [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teachers — Job satisfaction — United States.
    • Teachers — Salaries, etc. — United States.
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.

    Abstract:Eric Hanushek and Steven Rivkin examine how salary and working conditions affect the quality of instruction in the classroom. The wages of teachers relative to those of other college graduates have fallen steadily since 1940. Today, average wages differ little, however, between urban and suburban districts. In some metropolitan areas urban districts pay more, while in others, suburban districts pay more. But working conditions in urban and suburban districts differ substantially, with urban teachers reporting far less administrator and parental support, worse materials, and greater student problems. Difficult working conditions may drive much of the difference in turnover of teachers and the transfer of teachers across schools.

    Using rich data from Texas public schools, the authors describe in detail what happens when teachers move from school to school. They examine how salaries and student characteristics change when teachers move and also whether turnover affects teacher quality and student achievement. They note that both wages and student characteristics affect teachers’ choices and result in a sorting of teachers across schools, but they find little evidence that teacher transitions are detrimental to student learning.

    The extent to which variations in salaries and working conditions translate into differences in the quality of instruction depends importantly on the effectiveness of school personnel policies in hiring and retaining the most effective teachers and on constraints on both entry into the profession and the firing of low performers.

    The authors conclude that overall salary increases for teachers would be both expensive and ineffective. The best way to improve the quality of instruction would be to lower barriers to becoming a teacher, such as certification, and to link compensation and career advancement more closely with teachers’ ability to raise student performance.

    Lavy, Victor.

  • Using Performance-Based Pay to Improve the Quality of Teachers [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Competency-based education — United States.
    • Teachers — Salaries, etc. — United States.
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.

    Abstract:Tying teachers’ pay to their classroom performance should, says Victor Lavy, improve the current educational system both by clarifying teaching goals and by attracting and retaining the most productive teachers. But implementing pay for performance poses many practical challenges, because measuring individual teachers’ performance is difficult.

    Lavy reviews evidence on individual and school-based incentive programs implemented in recent years both in the United States and abroad. Lavy himself evaluated two carefully designed programs in Israel and found significant gains in student and teacher performance. He observes that research evidence suggests, although not conclusively, that pay-for-performance incentives can improve teachers’ performance, although they can also lead to unintended and undesired consequences, such as teachers’ directing their efforts exclusively to rewarded activities.

    Lavy also offers general guidelines for designing effective programs. He emphasizes that the system must measure true performance in a way that minimizes random variation as well as undesired and unintended consequences. It must align performance with ultimate outcomes and must be monitored closely to discourage gaming if not outright fraud in measured output. Goals should be attainable. Incentives should balance individual rewards with school incentives, fostering a cooperative culture but not at the expense of free riding. All teachers should be eligible for the incentive offered, but only a subset of teachers should be rewarded in practice. If too many teachers are rewarded, teachers may not need to exert much extra effort to benefit.

    Many of the practical challenges faced by performance-related pay, Lavy says, can be addressed through careful design of the system. He emphasizes that setting up a performance-related pay system that works is not a one-time task. Even with the best preparation, initial implementation is likely to be problematic. But if the effort is seen as ongoing, it should be possible to make progress gradually in developing incentives that motivate the desired teaching behaviors and that will be perceived by teachers as fair and accurate.

    Hill, Heather C.

  • Learning in the Teaching Workforce [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.
    • Teachers — Training of — United States.
    • Teachers colleges — United States — Graduate work.

    Abstract:The U.S. educational system invests heavily, in both time and money, in continuing education for teachers. In this article Heather Hill examines the effectiveness of two forms of teacher learning—graduate coursework and professional development.

    She focuses first on graduate education. Almost half of all teachers have a master’s degree. Many states allow graduate coursework to count toward recertification requirements. Some districts require teachers to complete a master’s degree within several years of hiring, and many others reward it with salary increases. Education reformers often recommend requiring master’s degrees. But much graduate coursework appears to be of low intellectual quality and disconnected from classroom practice. Most research finds no link between teachers’ graduate degrees and student learning unless the degree is in the teacher’s primary teaching field.

    Hill then examines professional development. Most workshops, institutes, and study groups appear to be brief, superficial, and of marginal use in improving teaching. But it does not have to be this way, says Hill. Professional development can enhance teaching and learning if it has three characteristics. It must last several days or longer; it must focus on subject-matter-specific instruction; and it must be aligned with the instructional goals and curriculum materials in teachers’ schools. Such high-quality programs do exist. But they are a tiny fraction of the nation’s offerings. One problem, says Hill, is that researchers rarely evaluate carefully either local professional development or its effect on student learning. Most evaluations simply ask participants to self-report. Lacking reliable evaluations, how are teachers and district officials to choose effective programs? Clearly, much more rigorous studies are needed.

    To make continuing education effective, school districts should encourage teachers to take graduate coursework that is more tightly aligned with their primary teaching assignment. And districts should select professional development programs based on evidence of their effectiveness. Finally, central planners must ensure that items on the menu of offerings closely align with district standards, curriculum materials, and assessments.

    Jacob, Brian Aaron.

  • The Challenges of Staffing Urban Schools with Effective Teachers [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.
    • Urban schools — United States.
    • Teachers — Supply and demand — United States.

    Abstract:Brian Jacob examines challenges faced by urban districts in staffing their schools with effective teachers. He emphasizes that the problem is far from uniform. Teacher shortages are more severe in certain subjects and grades than others, and differ dramatically from one school to another. The Chicago public schools, for example, regularly receive roughly ten applicants for each teaching position. But many applicants are interested in specific schools, and district officials struggle to find candidates for highly impoverished schools.

    Urban districts’ difficulty in attracting and hiring teachers, says Jacob, means that urban teachers are less highly qualified than their suburban counterparts with respect to characteristics such as experience, educational background, and teaching certification. But they may not thus be less effective teachers. Jacob cites recent studies that have found that many teacher characteristics bear surprisingly little relationship to student outcomes. Policies to enhance teacher quality must thus be evaluated in terms of their effect on student achievement, not in terms of conventional teacher characteristics.

    Jacob then discusses how supply and demand contribute to urban teacher shortages. Supply factors involve wages, working conditions, and geographic proximity between teacher candidates and schools. Urban districts have tried various strategies to increase the supply of teacher candidates (including salary increases and targeted bonuses) and to improve retention rates (including mentoring programs). But there is little rigorous research evidence on the effectiveness of these strategies.

    Demand also has a role in urban teacher shortages. Administrators in urban schools may not recognize or value high-quality teachers. Human resource departments restrict district officials from making job offers until late in the hiring season, after many candidates have accepted positions elsewhere. Jacob argues that urban districts must improve hiring practices and also reevaluate policies for teacher tenure so that ineffective teachers can be dismissed.

    Monk, David H.

  • Recruiting and Retaining High-Quality Teachers in Rural Areas [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teachers — Recruiting — United States.
    • Teachers — Rating of — United States.
    • Teacher effectiveness — United States.
    • Rural schools — United States.

    Abstract:In examining recruitment and retention of teachers in rural areas, David Monk begins by noting the numerous possible characteristics of rural communities—small size, sparse settlement, distance from population concentrations, and an economic reliance on agricultural industries that are increasingly using seasonal and immigrant workers to minimize labor costs. Many, though not all, rural areas, he says, are seriously impoverished.

    Classes in rural schools are relatively small, and teachers tend to report satisfaction with their work environments and relatively few problems with discipline. But teacher turnover is often high, and hiring can be difficult. Monk observes that rural schools have a below-average share of highly trained teachers. Compensation in rural schools tends to be low, perhaps because of a lower fiscal capacity in rural areas, thus complicating efforts to attract and retain teachers.

    Several student characteristics, including relatively large shares of students with special needs and with limited English skills and lower shares of students attending college, can also make it difficult to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. Other challenges include meeting the needs of highly mobile children of low-income migrant farm workers.

    With respect to public policy, Monk asserts a need to focus on a subcategory of what might be called hard-to-staff rural schools rather than to develop a blanket set of policies for all rural schools. In particular, he recommends a focus on such indicators as low teacher qualifications, teaching in fields far removed from the area of training, difficulty in hiring, high turnover, a lack of diversity among teachers in the school, and the presence of migrant farm workers’ children. Successful efforts to stimulate economic growth in these areas would be highly beneficial. He also calls attention to the potential for modern telecommunication and computing technologies to offset some of the drawbacks associated with teaching in rural areas.

    Eberts, Randall W.

  • Teachers Unions and Student Performance: Help or Hindrance? [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Collective bargaining — Teachers — United States.
    • Educational productivity — United States.
    • Academic achievement — United States.

    Abstract:Randall Eberts explores the role of teachers unions in public education. He focuses particularly on how collective bargaining agreements shape the delivery of educational services, how unions affect both student achievement and the cost of providing quality education, and how they support educational reform efforts.

    Eberts’s synthesis of the empirical research concludes that union bargaining raises teachers’ compensation, improves their working conditions, and enhances their employment security—while also raising the cost of providing public education by upwards of 15 percent. The effect of unions on student performance is mixed. Students of average ability who attend school in union districts perform better on standardized tests, whereas low-achieving and high-achieving students perform worse. However, the overall gain in achievement does not make up for the higher cost.

    Of late, unions have begun to be more supportive of school reform, moving from an adversarial bargaining model to a more collaborative one in which teachers and administrators share common goals and hold joint responsibility. Yet unions’ desire to participate in reform does not match their fervor to organize in the 1960s and 1970s. While national union leadership has talked about reform, local affiliates have initiated most of the reform efforts, pioneering reforms such as accountability and incentive pay. In Eberts’s view, one reason that unions have been slow to embrace reform efforts is the lack of consensus on their effectiveness. He argues that many reforms have been too narrowly focused; rather, effective schools result from well-designed systems and processes. In principle, adopting standards that help teachers focus on lessons they want students to learn, aligning their teaching to the lessons, and devising measurements that demonstrate that students are responding to these lessons can improve teaching as long as the public, policymakers, and school administrators acknowledge the complexity of the learning process and the broad outcomes that society desires.

    Ladd, Helen F.

  • Teacher Labor Markets in Developed Countries [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teachers — Supply and demand — Developed countries.
    • Teacher effectiveness — Developed countries.
    • Education and state — Developed countries.

    Abstract:Helen Ladd takes a comparative look at policies that the world’s industrialized countries are using to assure a supply of high-quality teachers. Her survey puts U.S. educational policies and practices into international perspective.

    Ladd begins by examining teacher salaries—an obvious, but costly, policy tool. She finds, perhaps surprisingly, that students in countries with high teacher salaries do not in general perform better on international tests than those in countries with lower salaries. Ladd does find, however, that the share of underqualified teachers in a country is closely related to salary. In high-salary countries like Germany, Japan, and Korea, for example, only 4 percent of teachers are underqualified, as against more than 10 percent in the United States, where teacher salaries, Ladd notes, are low relative to those in other industrialized countries.

    Teacher shortages also appear to stem from policies that make salaries uniform across academic subject areas and across geographic regions. Shortages are especially common in math and science, in large cities, and in rural areas. Among the policy strategies proposed to deal with such shortages is to pay teachers different salaries according to their subject area. Many countries are also experimenting with financial incentive packages, including bonuses and loans, for teachers in specific subjects or geographic areas.

    Ladd notes that many developed countries are trying to attract teachers by providing alternative routes into teaching, often through special programs in traditional teacher training institutions and through adult education or distance learning programs. To reduce attrition among new teachers, many developed countries have also been using formal induction or mentoring programs as a way to improve new teachers’ chances of success.

    Ladd highlights the need to look beyond a single policy, such as higher salaries, in favor of broad packages that address teacher preparation and certification, working conditions, the challenges facing new teachers, and the distribution of teachers across geographic areas.

    Vegas, Emiliana.

  • Teacher Labor Markets in Developing Countries [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
    • Teachers — Supply and demand — Developing countries.
    • Teacher effectiveness — Developing countries.
    • Education and state — Developing countries.

    Abstract:Emiliana Vegas surveys strategies used by the world’s developing countries to fill their classrooms with qualified teachers. With their low quality of education and wide gaps in student outcomes, schools in developing countries strongly resemble hard-to-staff urban U.S. schools. Their experience with reform may thus provide insights for U.S. policymakers.

    Severe budget constraints and a lack of teacher training capacity have pushed developing nations to try a wide variety of reforms, including using part-time or assistant teachers, experimenting with pay incentives, and using school-based management.

    The strategy of hiring teachers with less than full credentials has had mixed results. One successful program in India hired young women who lacked teaching certificates to teach basic literacy and numeracy skills to children whose skills were seriously lagging. After two years, student learning increased, with the highest gains among the least able students.

    As in the United States, says Vegas, teaching quality and student achievement in the developing world are sensitive to teacher compensation. As average teacher salaries in Chile more than doubled over the past decade, higher-quality students entered teacher education programs. And when Brazil increased educational funding and distributed resources more equitably, school enrollment increased and the gap in student test scores narrowed. Experiments with performance-based pay have had mixed results. In Bolivia a bonus for teaching in rural areas failed to produce higher-quality teachers. And in Mexico a system to reward teachers for improved student outcomes failed to change teacher performance. But Vegas explains that the design of teacher incentives is critical. Effective incentive schemes must be tightly coupled with desired behaviors and generous enough to give teachers a reason to make the extra effort.

    School-based management reforms give decisionmaking authority to the schools. Such reforms in Central America have reduced teacher absenteeism, increased teacher work hours, increased homework assignments, and improved parent-teacher relationships. These changes, says Vegas, are especially promising in schools where educational quality is low.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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