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Ouch! That's frightening. I think it's important to remember that just as teachers, we must teach the students we have regardless of backgrounds or issues, we also have to work with the teachers we HAVE. If we expect that each child can learn, then we should expect that all teachers can be successful teachers, and professional development is key. If these teachers (who are less intelligent, according to this research) are going to teach, then we have to make sure that we are giving them the tools and continued education to make sure that their students are successful.

Greg Farr

"Now what?"

Way too big a question to answer here in detail, but I would propose as discussion starters that we consider approaching this issue on FIVE FRONTS:

I. Fire bad teachers;

II. Pay quality teachers on equal basis to private industry standards. This includes eliminating the "teacher pay penalty" (eg. teachers earn, on average, about $154 less a week—or 14.3 percent less—than people in these other professions);

III. Place the most effective teachers with the most at-risk populations;

IV. Increase use of alternatively certified teachers (see http://www.authenticeducation.org/bigideas/article.lasso?artId=74); and

V. Implement the Tessessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) on a national basis.

(Hopefully I will have time to expand these points in a future post.)

Greg Farr

uhm...make that TENNESSEE, sorry.


Scary. This begs so many questions: Where did those teachers go? How many moved "up" into education administration? Who is hiring those 'less bright' teachers, and why? And what's "wrong" with the low scorers who stay?

Why don't they do surveys like this of education professors in the teacher colleges (e.g. do the students of bright professors stay in teaching longer?).

Did anyone notice that, of all the teachers referenced in the stats (both low and high scorers), one third are gone in 10 years?

One last one: since when did college entrance exams reliably measure intelligence?

Dan Schmit

The fallacy here is an assumed correlation between college entrance exam scores and academic ability. I don't thing the correlation is necessarily that strong. There are a variety of other factors to consider including a growing sense of purpose throughout college years which can translate into more interest in academic work and higher achievement. It also trivializes teacher retention to look at only one factor such as this and approach it as if it were causal.

Scott McLeod

So we've now heard several arguments against college entrance exams as valid indicators of academic ability. Of course many societal entities use them that way.

But putting that aside, the bottom line is that large-scale research still shows us 1) that educators with lower scores make up an ever-increasing percentage of staff populations over time, and 2) that it has an impact on student achievement.

So regardless of our disagreements about the validity of these exams, students still are being negatively impacted in some way by this phenomena (however we choose to label it). Do we care? And, if so, what do we do about it?


Is is possible those with the higher college entrance scores (most likely high achievers in school themselves) are more easily frustrated by the disconnect between what they know is possible and what they experience in our schools? According to the exit surveys of teachers leaving the classroom in our state and others, the number one reason for the exodus is lack of administrative support.


@ Greg

III. Place the most effective teachers with the most at-risk populations;

I completely agree with this point. I personally feel called to and love teaching at a school w/high poverty, high crime and a very at risk population of kiddos, however, many veteran teachers feel that once they have "put in their time" they want to be moved to easier schools w/easier kiddos, and all too often the union contract makes this doable for those teachers.

For example, the current contract in my district states that unless a teacher volunteers, combination classes must be assigned by seniority. If a new teacher is hired, that teacher must be given the combo. Aside from the problem w/combination classes and parallel teaching, my frustration with this scenario is that it puts the most inexperienced teachers with kids who are already vulnerable simply because of being in a combo. Not only are we setting a new or inexperienced teacher up for possible failure and burnout, we are putting another hinderance to learning in the way of those kiddos.

Regan Ross

"Now what?"
A good question, but not a new one. This study is proving what we all know intuitively: the education system does not do enough to retain the talented teachers. There's a good movie out there right now called "Chalk" that I think illustrates the impossibleness of the job really well. It was supposed to be a comedy, but my wife and I - both teachers - winced at its accuracy sometimes. Anyway, there was one scene where an average faculty member said, "I'm too scared to leave (the profession)." That about sums it up: the talented ones know they can do "other" things (and can't in the school systems) while the mediocre stay because they know they got a good gig.

"III. Place the most effective teachers with the most at-risk populations;"
I don't see how that's going to keep the talented teachers who like intellectual stimulation around for long. Let's say you got a talented physics teacher who would be ideal teaching IB Physics. You want him burnt in 2 years teaching inner-city sweat hogs? Good thought, but, in my humble opinion, unrealistic.

Regan Ross.


""III. Place the most effective teachers with the most at-risk populations;"
I don't see how that's going to keep the talented teachers who like intellectual stimulation around for long."

I teach students at-risk and find it VERY mentally stimulating. I have to figure out a way to make high school students who have a long history of failure actually meet with success.

I have to figure out ways to create paradigm shifts in their psyches re: their self-worth and abilities.

Definitely keeps me on my toes!

ps - Talented teachers, in my books, are usually talented because of how they teach kids, not because of how they teach a subject.

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