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Closing the achievement gap by supporting teachers

Instead of pouring more resources into high-stakes standardized tests, those working to support low-performing students should focus their energies on supporting teachers, writes education professor Linda Darling-Hammond in a blog at the Huffington Post titled “To Close the Achievement Gap, We Need to Close the Teaching Gap.”

As evidence, Darling-Hammond points to the findings of the Teaching and Learning International Surveyof 100,000 teachers worldwide, which were released last week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The survey, she said, revealed:

American teachers today work harder under much more challenging conditions than teachers elsewhere in the industrialized world. They also receive less useful feedback, less helpful professional development, and have less time to collaborate to improve their work.

Current education policies, writes Darling-Hammond, “ignore the facts that one in four American children lives below the poverty line and a growing number are homeless, without regular access to food or health care, and stressed by violence and drug abuse around them. Educators now spend a great deal of their time trying to help children and families in their care manage these issues, while they also seek to close skill gaps and promote learning.”

Darling-Hammond highlighted the survey finding that nearly two-thirds of U.S. middle-school teachers work in schools where more than 30 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. That is triple the average rate reported in the survey, and by far the highest rate in the world, she said.

To address these inequalities, Darling-Hammond suggests some important policy changes that would support teachers rather than penalize them:

  • Address inequities that undermine learning
  • Value teaching and teacher learning
  • Redesign schools to create time for collaboration
  • Create meaningful teacher evaluations that foster improvement

“We cannot make major headway in raising student performance and closing the achievement gap until we make progress in closing the teaching gap,” Darling-Hammond concludes. “That means supporting children equitably outside as well as inside the classroom, creating a profession that is rewarding and well-supported, and designing schools that offer the conditions for both the student and teacher learning that will move American education forward.”

Read the full post here.

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1 Comment:

  • 1 Phyllis C.Murray
    · Jun 30, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    When Dr. Martin Luther King accepted the UFT John Dewey Award in 1964 stated the following: ” The richest nation on earth has never allocated enough of its abundant resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige their work justifies.” Now, 60 years later, the fact remains …teachers are disrespected, and the salaries do not keep up with inflation. The fact that NYC teachers worked in good faith, while attempts to negotiate a fair and equitable contract from 2009-2014 were impeded, says that teachers are worthy of much praise. And if education were a priority in New York City, its teachers and students would be respected, the teachers would always be assured of a fair and equitable contract, and all students would have equity and access to the best education possible.