Friday, May 02, 2008

Do our test scores matter?

Scott McLeod has an interesting post entitled Low ability teachers, low ability students? . He cites evidence that leads him to assert that
the percentage of teachers with lower academic ability increases in schools over time. The brightest go elsewhere.
He then goes on to demonstrate that this adversely affects education in this country. Finally, he turns the discussion over to the rest of us, saying
Let’s assume that, generally speaking, these studies are correct: 1) smart people are less likely to stay in teaching (thus resulting in a concentration of teachers with lower academic ability), and 2) the academic ability of teachers impacts student learning outcomes. Now what?
Now, what? How do we keep the brightest teachers? One answer, I think, is to allow teachers to actually teach. Teaching is a very creative activity. When bright people are allowed to be creative, I think they are happier. When they are told that it is the third Thursday in March so they have to be doing X, they are denied the opportunity to be creative. And they are more likely to become unhappy.

But that isn't going to solve the whole problem. What else can be done? If these "facts" are true, we need to do something.

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