The Best Teachers Have Good Language Skills
there a definitive study that shows clearly what makes a teacher effective?
Besides characteristics of a
student's parents and home life, teacher quality is the No. 1 influence on
student achievement. But according to a major policy report by the National
Council on Teacher Quality, research shows that the things most of us THINK are
trademarks of a quality teacher, aren't necessarily the ones that matter most.
The study found that teachers with
high levels of literacy - big vocabularies, good speaking and writing skills,
high test scores - are much more effective than their counterparts who may have
more experience, professional development and other seeming advantages.
Teachers who went to more selective
colleges also are better in the classroom than those who went to so-so
colleges. Also, the best job evaluations go to teachers who are high-achieving,
responsible, critical thinkers, organized, motivating, respectful, and loyal to
These findings signal that it is bad
public policy to pay more money to teachers just for earning a master's degree,
since the evidence is clear that post-graduate education does not make a
teacher more effective, and in fact, can have a slightly negative impact on
Another widespread belief is that teaching
experience equals quality. This isn't true, after the gains of the first four
or five years. It's possible that the best teachers move up the pay scale into school
administration positions or other careers, making it look as though teachers
get better in the first few years, and then plateau. Bottom line: it is not
wise to have stairstep pay scales based on seniority, the way we do.
Here's a whopper: the most effective
teachers aren't even necessarily education majors. Teacher prep is nowhere near
as important as other factors, including academic caliber, course work across a
broad spectrum of disciplines, and the type of content-based experience and
course work the teacher has had. The finding suggests that an end to
requirements that teachers be graduates of teachers' colleges is on the way.
Another whopper: teacher
certification adds "some marginal value," but not enough to justify the costs,
including barring many good people from teaching for lack of certification.
Answer: alternative certification programs that value nontraditional routes
into teaching by capable people.
the report, "Increasing the Odds: How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers,"
as a pdf from www.nctq.org, and sign up for
that group's free bimonthly e-newsletter, Teacher