Building a Better Teacher

Elizabeth Green, Building A Better Teacher, The New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html.

Under No Child Left Behind’s testing mandates, a sea of data is now available, but what does it tell us? What can schools do to boost student achievement in measurable ways?  When researchers ran the numbers in dozens of different studies, every factor under a school’s control (such as class size versus per-pupil funding versus curriculum) produced just a tiny impact, except for one: which teacher the student had been assigned to.  How do we change the caliber of teachers in our schools? There is a nationwide movement of reformers poised to address this question and other related issues. The issue is getting a lot of nationwide attention. Bill Gates’ foundation is investing millions in a project to improve teaching quality in the United States.

What makes a good teacher? No single essential trait has surfaced. Among the factors that do not predict teacher success are: a graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm, and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try.

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