Opinion: School reform debate must shift from testing, accountability to teacher-centered supports

By Gene A. Budig and Alan Heaps (Times of Trenton Guest Opinion column )

14957448-mmmainEarlier this month, the nation celebrated National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week.

We would be wise to support teachers in any way we can. In an increasingly competitive, technological and connected world, our individual and collective welfare depends on education. And education depends on teachers. According to a Rand Corporation study, “When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor.”
So how are teachers doing? There’s good news and bad news.

The good news:
• Teachers like their jobs. A 2013 Scholastic/Gates Foundation report tells us that 89 percent of teachers are satisfied with their jobs. This holds true across years of teaching and community family household income.

•• The public appreciates teachers. A PDK/Gallup poll tells us that 72 percent have trust and confidence in our public school teachers.

The bad news:
• The high satisfaction numbers are declining. A 2013 MetLife poll tells us there has been a big drop in the percent of teachers “very satisfied” with their jobs. It has gone from 62 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2012. That’s the lowest in 25 years.

• Attrition rates are very high. Almost half the teachers leave within the first five years. That is a 50 percent increase in the last 15 years. And some schools are hit particularly hard. For example, the average annual teacher attrition rate is 17 percent, but in urban schools it is higher than 20 percent.

Read more here at Trenton Times Opinion column.

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