In the 16th June edition of The Economist last year the cover and lead story focuses on what matters in schools, i.e. teachers. The article reiterates prior studies that found that the top 10% of teachers impart three times as much learning as the bottom 10%. The magazine has an interesting briefing paper on Education reform which also refers to studies that show that if African-American children were all taught by the top 25% of teachers the gap between blacks and whites would close within eight years – a simple fix to closing the gap in England?
The article discusses the idea that improving the average teacher could revolutionise the entire profession and appears to lay the blame at the door of teacher training colleges that teach esoteric courses with an insufficient amount of classroom practice and a lack of peer review, observation and feedback. It asserts that teachers become better teachers in their first few years as they develop their classroom practice but then tail off due to a lack of proper CPD.
The writer figures the solution is to have more feedback from peers and peer to peer lesson observations – both of which we agree with and why we have enabled these functions within Standards Tracker. We know that good schools are already doing this as we see it in practice. We also believe that this feedback is more effective if it is done little and often – just as it is with students. The Economist’s message is that the biggest gains will come from preparing new teachers better, and upgrading the ones already in the classroom. We think that the schools and Teaching School Alliances we work with are already doing this and we believe that we make the process simpler and more effective through the use of Standards Tracker.