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The development of value-added assessment, a statistical technique through which the effects of instruction on student performance are measured, have yielded new information to educational researchers. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that a teacher with strong subject matter competency and strong instructional skills may have as much influence on the academic performance of a student as his socioeconomic background. These findings have resulted in mandates to improve teacher quality set down in No Child and other school accountability laws.
Exacerbating the need for teachers are class-size reduction initiatives, which haven’t helped much and are about to make matters a whole lot worse. The upcoming retirement of the Baby Boomers from the teaching ranks — 100,000 in California alone — will force more school districts to look far and wide for replacements.
The traditional system of teacher compensation, under which teachers earn income based on seniority and number of graduate degrees acquired, makes the profession less attractive to math and science collegians.
So the most-critical shortages will continue to be in the courses that students badly need in order to advance in the global economy, unless something drastic is done.
BUT SCHOOL DISTRICTS can’t count on help from the nation’s schools of education. Just 13 percent of 77 education schools surveyed by the National Council on Teacher Quality had high quality math instruction programs.
Arthur Levine, the former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College, concluded in a 2006 study that 54 percent of the nation’s teachers are taught at colleges with low admission requirements.
This lack of high-quality instruction helps the nation’s annual teacher attrition rate of 8 percent. It’s even higher among instructors with less than three years of experience, despite the fact that most teachers can easily attain tenure — and near-permanent job security — within two-to-three years of service.
Alternative teaching programs such as Teach For America — which supplies aspiring teachers to school districts in 27 cities — may help with the shortages. But school systems must look at other ways of getting teachers into the classroom. That means competing with other industrialized nations for highly-talented instructors, especially those from Third World countries in which teaching remains one of the few ways the poor can move into the middle class.
Some 10,000 emigre teachers were employed by the nation’s school districts in 2003, according to the National Education Association. That number has since swelled. School districts have followed the path blazed by districts such as Prince George’s County and the Clark County school district in Las Vegas, which lured 51 Filipino English and math teachers to its schools in 2005.
More could be brought in, especially as foreign teachers have gotten hip to the relatively high wages compared to those in their homelands, but efforts to improve U.S. schools will eventually run up against the statutory limits of H-1B visas. Maybe that could help teach our politicians a lesson about the need to reform the current Byzantine and bothersome immigration system.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?