Wednesday, July 27, 2016

US Teacher Pay and Abilities

An interesting international comparison:
If you think the skills of American teachers don’t stack up to those of teachers in other countries, you’re wrong—American teachers are perfectly mediocre. Well, in fairness, American teachers seem to be a touch above average in literacy skills and noticeably below average in numeracy. They shine in neither area. “Mediocre” means middling. I guess some country has to be in the middle, but that’s not how we Americans like to picture ourselves. For me, American teachers being middle-of-the-pack isn’t good enough. I expect—at least if you’re an American reader of Chalkboard—that you too want the U.S. to be a world leader in education.

If this reads like a knock against American teachers, that’s not quite the intention. It is intended as a knock against American policymakers. We in fact get much better teachers than we pay for. More on this below.
Go read the whole thing, it's not that long.


Pseudotsuga said...

The article also doesn't take into account the wide variety of student bodies in the USA (vs. the nearly complete monocultures of Finland or Japan, for example).
If the measure of teachers is their students, then we need to find similar students in Japan, Finland, etc. and look at those teachers too. But since we don't see the racial, cultural or economic "diversity" in those countries which affects the USA, I can't see how the metric they are using here is valid.

Darren said...

Your point *supports* the article's contention that we in the US get better teachers than we pay for.

Your point does not explain (or excuse, or justify) the low math abilities of US teachers.

Ellen K said...

Maybe if they would pay teachers a meaningful raise for getting a grad school degree it would show up in the classroom. As it is unless I wanted to teach in college, taking a two year sabbatical to get an MFA would never ever pay for itself. I may be just an American school teacher, but I'm not stupid. Paying someone a mere $1000 a year for a degree that costs 30 times that amount never evens out.

Pseudotsuga said...

At first glance I didn't see how that could be so, but then on second glance I see what you mean.

And I can't explain the low math abilities of US teachers.

Perhaps it is ability-- or that US teachers (as a general body) can't mathematicate like non-US teachers?
I don't think this thesis will hold up, since we'd have to compare X number of US teachers with Y numbers of non-US teachers, and I suspect that when we adjust the numbers for valid analysis, humans are human. Now this is just a hypothesis, without any data, so different people in different places *do* have different innate math ability (factoring for education in said maths).
So if it is not ability, then what makes the mediocrity? Is it hiring standards (where the best do not seek to be teachers or are not hired as teachers), or something else which explains the problem? I don't teach math, so I can only look on as an outsider.

Darren said...

The degree that's going to take me 5 years and $25,000 to finish will pay for itself in 3 years in my district.