Fire those non-performing teachers!

So, should we be able to fire teachers? Of course. I can’t stand the current system and don’t think it helps teachers or students at all.

Focusing on getting rid of teachers in the first three to five years before they’re tenured and no longer able to be fired is counter-productive. This is the time when schools should be doing everything possible to help new teachers—those first few years are tough, tough, tough.

Requiring districts to keep poor teachers is detrimental to students because they are not learning and to teachers because it lowers the professional standards. Having had a math teacher who, literally, sat at his desk day by day and did not teach AT ALL (except the many, many days he was being observed), I feel for kids who have teachers who have quit working. This would absolutely not be allowed in any other profession. Why in teaching?

More help for beginning teachers coupled with the ability to fire truly non-performing teachers would go a long way toward improving learning.

Should teachers go to school?

(photo by dcJohn)

Ladue teachers are going back to school.

❝Ladue, one of the top-performing districts in the state, has recently told its teachers with bachelor's degrees that a master's degree "will be the new standard expected" within four years.❞ (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The Post article basically says that the teachers aren’t going back to improve their teaching, as “study after study” shows that further education isn’t worth much. Then why would Ladue encourage their teachers to spend their time in class?

❝To the Ladue School District, it's worth their reputation, and the support of voters who may approve or deny tax increases.❞

That seems harsh. Maybe pragmatic?

I had noticed the Ladue outlier in a post on teacher salaries last spring.

I would like to drill deeper into the research on graduate studies since it seems so counter-intuitive to me as both a former teacher and as someone who has looked at a lot of numbers. I have a lot of questions.

Would the research differ if we factored in the type of degree and/or the challenge level?

❝I still see a lot of generalist master's programs that are pretty easy and painless for teachers to get through," Hausfather [dean of education at Maryville University] said. "It's still hard to push programs that push people. They just want to get a degree and a pay raise.❞ (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

❝They [Goldhaber and Brewer (1996) also found that, although advanced degrees in general were not associated with higher student achievement, an advanced degree that was specific to the subject area that a teacher taught was associated with higher achievement.❞ (Center for Public Education)

Would the research differ if we isolated certain age levels or certain subject areas?

❝Goldhaber and Brewer (1996) found that the presence of teachers with at least a major in their subject area was the most reliable predictor of student achievement scores in math and science.❞ (Center for Public Education)

What long-term effects does being perceived as more professional have on the teaching profession?

This seems to be the affect Ladue is going for. I’m not sure how it can be measured. Have they done surveys?

Yikes, the teachers aren't certified

I have a friend who insists that research shows that teacher certification means nothing. He's not the only one.

I thought I would throw out there the correlation numbers for St. Louis County school districts between the certification rate and the median math score on the Terra Nova for third graders: .72 (excluding Special School district).

Occasionally districts will hire someone who will finish certification within a specified time frame because they believe that teacher is an excellent choice. This may especially be true in some of the more specialized areas. My theory is that the difference between 100 percent certification and 99.4 isn't much. When I sorted by certification percentage and only checked the correlation of districts below 99 percent, the number decreased slightly to .70. However, by using only the districts below 98 percent, it increased to .76. It stayed the same for under 97 percent

The highest correlation numbers I found were when sorting for median score and then only using the lower numbers.

So schools with a lower median Terra Nova math score in third grade highly correlated with certification rates. Maybe some time I'll run more numbers to see if this holds up both with other grades and other content areas.

Correlation numbers are far from conclusive but do show an area in which to do more precise research. Does this only work in an area with competing districts? Within a larger district? Over an entire state? What areas are the non "highly qualified" teachers teaching in? Enquiring minds want to know.

(Numbers from DESE)