Let’s make teacher quality less important, writes Dan Willingham on The Answer Sheet. “Teacher quality is the most important in-school factor that influences kids’ schooling,” he writes.”That’s important because it’s pretty hard to change characteristics of the child, the family or the neighborhood, whereas educators and politicians can more readily change characteristics of schools.”
We could try to hire better and better teachers to replace those who are unsatisfactory. That’s expensive.
Willingham prefers to make teaching more consistent so the “characteristics of individual teachers wouldn’t matter so much.”
For example, we might try to make teaching more consistent by improving teacher preparation. Right now, teacher preparation just doesn’t matter very much. Most teachers say that it didn’t help them, and there is scant evidence that the type of training teachers receive has much impact on their teaching.
Naturally, if teacher training has little impact, and teachers are left to their own devices, characteristics of the teacher will end up mattering a lot to teacher quality.
Another way to make teacher quality more consistent is to use a curriculum, so that lesson content is more consistent across teachers.
Some would call this “teacherproofing” the classroom, which can help inexperienced and subpar teachers, but restrict good teachers. Is it possible to make teacher quality a less significant factor without dumbing down the most talented teachers?