Friday, March 7, 2008


I find the McKinsey & Company analysisof the world’s best performing school systems fascinating. The analysis and comparison of the world’s schools should create some amazing actions to help improve education in the United States. Unfortunately education is not about analysis, it is about politics.

Their number one recommendation is that we need to develop a world-class teaching work force if our schools are ever to regain their rightful place as the best in the world.

It is interesting that selectivity is a prime focus of world class school systems. However, most of the so-called “alternative teacher certification” models in use in the United States allows almost anyone into the classroom to teach. While they are teaching, in their free time, they are expected to take classes to learn the art and science of teaching. At the end of two to three years of this, they are certified teachers. The only selectivity is if you have the stamina to teach all day, do your lesson plans, grade your papers and still have enough energy to attend classes at nights and on weekends to complete your course work. However – in the ABCTE program – you have to complete your study BEFORE you get to in front of kids and only 40% make it through to the classroom. Selectivity.

Part two of the McKinsey study is ongoing professional development. Those who oppose us are worried because they know that the mentoring and professional development our teachers get once they are in the classroom to speed their development on the job is not world class. We are constantly told that the professional development is a joke and the mentoring is sketchy at best. We need a concerted effort to fix both if we ever want a world class teaching workforce.
Finally, we have to stop lowering class size until we achieve selectivity and quality in our teachers and the absolute best continued training. All we are doing every time we lower a class size is diluting the quality of the workforce we have with no solid supply to augment that workforce. The McKinsey report clearly states that you would increase student achievement if we put a few more students with our star teachers as opposed to creating smaller classes taught by mediocre teachers.

This is a great report – but as usual, the politics in education will get in the way of any progress in education.

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