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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Trouble with teachers: Why there's no post-Covid rebound

A crisis in classroom teaching quality is forcing school systems to "abandon once-ambitious student recovery plans," concludes a report by the Center for Reinventing Public Education. "Plans for tutoring and other customized help have been undone by leaders’ need to build (or rebuild) teachers’ core skills," write Lydia Rainey, Paul Hill and Robin Lake.


Photo: Yan Krukov/Pexels

Leaders wanted to "accelerate" learning, which requires teaching at grade level while also backfilling learning gaps. Learning how to do that required "significantly more teacher training than systems were able to provide or teachers were willing to adopt," the report said.


"Exhausted" teachers focused on covering the basics. Even if districts could find trainers to teach new instructional strategies, it was hard to schedule training during the day -- not enough substitutes -- and hard to get teachers to show up for training, even with extra pay, after school.


As teachers quit, they were replaced by inexperienced teachers. “I do think the first and foremost issue is, ‘Do we have enough high quality teachers in our schools to do this work?’ ” one district leader said in the report. “And the answer is no."


The trouble with teachers explains "why test scores are not bouncing back as quickly as we had hoped and as quickly as they need to,” said Lake in an Ed Week story by Caitlynn Peetz. "Student learning fell back during the pandemic, but our study is showing … teaching also fell back. So those ambitious initial academic recovery goals have largely gone unrealized.”


Intensive tutoring was expected to help students catch up, but schools had trouble finding good tutors. One district that contracted for tutors said quality “varied tremendously,” she writes. The cost was high and the impact was "minimal." The district will scale back tutoring.


The report suggests asking local advocacy groups to recruit and train parents and community members to tutor students, and freeing federal Title I funds to pay for tutoring.

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23 Comments


Guest
Sep 30, 2023

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Guest
Jul 27, 2023

As a homeschool mom who teaches classes for homeschooled kids, I have plenty of issues with public schools. But, in this case this discussion also should address the change in students. Many kids and families no longer act like school matters...which isn't shocking since many districts spent 2 years saying that school wasn't important enough to keep open. In the homeschooling community we talk about waves of families. Many early homeschoolers did it for religious reasons. Then there was a wave of academic homeschoolers who wanted a more rigorous program. We still see both of those and also families who want efficient schooling to allow kids to do time-intensive activities. But, we are also seeing a wave of famil…

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Guest
Jul 31, 2023
Replying to

Of course homeschooling can't be scaled - it's education that is tailored to the student. The statement that homeschooling compares itself to the lowest standards is as much anecdote as my stories of 5s on AP exams and trips to national academic competitions. I've seen many situations, from students who find college courses easier than their homeschooling studies to students whose families are encouraged to send their students to public school.


Nothing in my initial post advocated a particular education policy. It was merely a statement that, even in the homeschool world, there was more student apathy than in the past. It is challenging to gauge the success of different education approaches in the face of an increased number …


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Guest
Jul 26, 2023

I'm always puzzled by claims that we can "accelerate" learning. If this is suddenly an option now, why weren't we doing it before the pandemic?

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Jul 27, 2023
Replying to

"Accelerated learning" predates the pandemic by many years. It's always been hard to do, but it gets harder when the range of achievement levels widens.

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Guest
Jul 26, 2023

Or - just group by level/instructional need in each subject - the way it was done for generations. I criticize teachers in a number of ways, but to expect them to “differentiate instruction” across 4-5 grade levels is ridiculous. Does anyone really think that kids don’t know where they perform; in comparison with other kids in a heterogeneous classroom?

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Guest
Jul 31, 2023
Replying to

This isn't much of a tell about segregation - it's not surprising that people who value education teach their kids at home, require that homework be done, hire tutors, or otherwise do whatever is needed to help their kids place into at least the middle levels, if not higher.

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Guest
Jul 26, 2023

I thought all these teachers have gone through Ed school and have certificates saying they are ready to be teachers. Are they saying that the ed schools aren't doing their job and teaching people how to teach? Maybe somebody should look in to what they're teaching in ed schools!


Ann in L.A.


In case it isn't clear, I strongly favor alternative certification systems and believe ed schools are one of the biggest problems with or ed system.

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Guest
Jul 27, 2023
Replying to

I was in both: an alt-cert program for teaching physics, and a "traditional" program that actually got me a job. The problem is that the people running the show are products of "traditional" thinking and hire people who think like them. In eduland, it's far more about how you think than anything else.

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