Teacher quality - know it when you see it?

Today on the Learning Matters blog (an affiliate of PBS) check out a discussion on teacher training programs and teacher quality, featuring New?Leaders for New Schools'?Jon Schnur, Allan Odden, Public Impact's Julie Kowal and Sharon Kebschull Barrett, and yours truly (among many others).

My piece is below in full but be sure to check out the full discussion online and leave your own comments.

?Know it when you see it?? Hardly.

We can't improve the quality of our nation's educators or teacher training programs without a serious dialogue around what good teaching looks like, especially for the most at-risk students for whom excellent teaching is most vital. Further, policies must be structured in ways that tease out the attributes and skills of excellent educators and identify and develop these in less effective teachers.

In Ohio, we frequently hear that it's just not possible to do this fairly. But experiences from other states and districts prove otherwise. We interviewed teachers evaluated under the District of Columbia's IMPACT system ? which measures hallmarks of strong instruction like checking for understanding, engaging students, and delivering content clearly. Overwhelmingly DC teachers believed that it correctly identified high and low performers as well as identified tangible ways they could improve.

We heard a similar theme when we interviewed Mike Miles, superintendent of Colorado's Harrison School District 2. HSD2 measures teacher quality according to curricular alignment, classroom management, student engagement, and student growth, among many indicators. The district has seen more teachers achieving advanced levels of proficiency under this system, proving that instructional improvement is possible once we begin defining and measuring excellence.

The truism that good teaching can't be quantified ? that you ?just know it when you see it? ? is anything but true. These new systems may not be perfect, but they are worlds better than what we had previously. And they are a starting point if we want to finally get serious about improving teacher quality.

- Jamie Davies O'Leary

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