Bits and Pieces

Monday, March 08, 2004

Teacher Testing

Fried Man has a very good post about teacher testing to improve teaching quality.

It seems obvious - impose qualification tests on teachers and you will improve teacher quality, thereby improving teaching.

Unfortunately, however, according to an NBER report last year, it doesn't work.

I was taught by some very good teachers in some very good schools - all state-run, nothing private. My teachers were good because they cared about us. They came into work every morning and for about 6 hours a day try to educate people who don't want to learn, then went home to mark homework done by kids who didn't want to do it, and then came in to work the next day to do it all over again.

It takes a special kind of person to do that. Teachers in the UK need to attain a PGCE , a qualification that takes a year to complete. In the vast majority of cases this comes after completing a 3 year degree course. After 4 years of education the majority of people move into the private sector for a higher salary. The few who decide to stay and teach should be hailed as gods, not subjected to the ridicule we heap upon them when our kids fail to get straight 'A's (the most recent example being Rod Paige's of the NEA as a 'terrorist organisation').

Teaching is a tough career and, yes, some qualified teachers can't hack it in the real classroom. However, these people are noticed early on and weeded out during training. We don't need to imply that our teachers are not up to their jobs by testing them every time little Jimmy drops a grade. The problem with the education system is that teachers are underpaid and unappreciated. Their commitment and dedication to the job should not be questioned.

My secondary school teachers urged me to go to college, and my college teachers urged me to go to university. At university they urged me to stay, even when I failed a year. I owe it to my great teachers that I have a college degree, and if you don't like it, you can kiss my ass.
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