Table of contents(21 chapters)
Teacher effectiveness and teacher quality have become the focus of intense international attention and national concern. Dozens of nations are implementing a diverse set of strategies that aim to improve the quality of education by improving the quality of teachers. These efforts have not been well coordinated, and as the authors in this volume show, core constructs of quality have not been well defined. In this introductory chapter, we discuss why teachers are now “under the microscope” of policymaker’s attention and elaborate how the chapters in this volume identify particularly fruitful avenues for further study. The assembled chapters address two complex questions: (1) what existing cross-national measures of teacher effectiveness and teacher quality are most promising and how can these be aligned to maximize their research potential? and (2) what core constructs of teacher quality or effectiveness are missing from the evidence-base, and how can cross-national comparative research help refine these? To investigate these questions, the chapters in this volume address different aspects of “quality.” While quality may be politically contested, there is a significant need to continue to articulate a truly global perspective on teacher quality. The authors look at a wide range of aspects of quality in order to advance thinking about teacher education, instructional quality and workforce or organizational conditions that affect quality; to analyze instruments, tools, or measures used to assess quality; and identify what measures need to be developed further. We also note how scholarly study of the spread of transnational teacher reforms has failed to keep pace with national policy changes regarding teacher quality, and advance a more general theory of the forces affecting national policymakers.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is mandated by the international community to collect, analyse and disseminate internationally comparable statistics on education, including those on and related to teachers. Based within a framework that emphasises quantity and quality issues for teachers, this chapter describes the current UIS international collection of teacher data, the policy options they intend to inform, as well as key limitations and challenges of the present data. In reaction to this, the chapter also presents UIS’s on-going developmental work related to the global data collection and statistics on primary and secondary teachers ranging from the measurement of current shortages, particularly in developing countries aiming to achieve universal primary education (UPE), to the expansion of an international framework that sheds additional light on teacher and teaching quality.
Global focus on reforming teachers has resulted in the inclusion of multiple survey questions about teachers’ professional learning activities in large-scale international studies. A cross-national analysis of these survey data will likely enhance our understanding and inform the future direction regarding teacher professional development policy and practice. Yet we do not know whether these surveys measure the key features and their contextual factors of teachers’ professional learning activities to allow a systematic cross-national analysis. Based on international and U.S. literature, I develop a conceptual model of teachers’ professional learning activities in global context and analyze relevant survey items used in three major international studies – TIMSS, PIRLS, and TALIS. I conclude the chapter with a discussion of the coverage of these survey items and a direction for improving data collections of teachers’ professional learning activities in large-scale international studies.
Amidst a worldwide concern with teacher quality, recent teacher reforms often focus on how to certify teachers, how to evaluate teachers, how to recruit the best and brightest people to be teachers, and how to fire bad teachers. The political discourse of these policy reforms oftentimes depicts teachers as largely inactive transmitters of knowledge and does not recognize the agency they have in affecting standards. Yet, such a narrow framework may suppress teacher pedagogy, practices, and also teacher beliefs. In this chapter, we seek to understand the extent that two types of math teacher beliefs – traditional and constructivist orientations – are related to national cultural factors. In doing so, we test both “culturist” and “neo-institutional” hypotheses by observing how those beliefs vary across different nations.
Unpacking Teacher Differences in Didaktik and Curriculum Traditions: Trends from TIMSS 2003, 2007, and 2011
This chapter explores the difference in two orientations – didaktik and curriculum – and examines how these differing stances relate to teachers’ instructional practice, engagement with professional development opportunities, and lesson design. A didaktik orientation influences much of the Nordic and Germanic countries, while a curriculum orientation is widespread in Commonwealth of Nations and the United States. This chapter explores the differences between these two theories of learning and teaching. More than just different theories of teaching and learning, we argue these theories shape how we see the world (i.e., objectified vs. subjectified) and manifest themselves in distinctive understandings of schools’ purpose, the type of learning engaged therein, and how people learn. Consequently, these orientations affect the teacher’s role, the qualifications necessary to teach, as well as other aspects of teacher quality such as instructional methods, and types of professional development.
A growing body of evidence confirms that good teaching is the most important school-specific factor impacting student achievement and growth. Concerns over teachers’ effectiveness have led to escalating demands for reliable systems that measure teachers’ effectiveness. Such performance systems require a stable and explicit definition of knowledge, skills, actions, and dispositions that comprise the work of teaching. In this chapter, we refer to these as teacher “core competencies” (CCs). Well-defined core competency constructs can anchor investigations of teacher effectiveness for purposes in many different settings, but the field currently lacks a set of common stable descriptors. The descriptors encoded in current standards and assessments are plagued by confusion arising from multiple ideological perspectives, conflicting political views on teacher preparation, and disconnects between stakeholders (e.g., university versus alternative preparation routes).
This chapter presents a study designed to move from descriptive, “input-based” ways to describe teaching to the development and early testing of specific construct descriptors. We begin by distilling many disparate sources of authority regarding what teachers should know and be able to do and assess the validity and usefulness of the resulting descriptors across several measurement applications. We find evidence of stability across multiple populations and different settings and evidence that the constructs can describe preparation program emphases, as well as evidence that some program-level aggregate scores correlate with student assessment scores. We also investigate the stability of competency constructs in different settings, attempting to understand the implications of k-12 school contexts for interpreting core competency measurements of preparation programs.
Indicators of Quality in Teacher Education: Looking at Features of Teacher Education from an International Perspective
In the United States, policy discussions of teacher education in relationship to teacher quality have tended to focus more closely around debates about the nature of teacher preparation and the need for quality teachers to possess advanced degrees or certification. The field is in need of an array of indicators – a set of powerful, well-researched indicators that can be applied to large public universities as well as small regional private colleges, from university-based programs to “alternative” programs and to more “hybrid” programs. These indicators need to be relevant for teacher certification across a variety of age-ranges and developmental stages. In this chapter, we build on a growing conversation about practice in teacher education and efforts on the part of researchers to identify key features of powerful teacher education. We propose that quality teacher education is designed around a clear and shared vision of good teaching; it is coherent in that it links theory with practice and offers opportunities to learn that are aligned with the vision of good teaching; and it offers opportunities to enact teaching. While these features are supported for the most part by growing consensus in the literature (National Research Council, 2010; NCATE, 2010), there is also an emerging empirical base that provides support for the value of these features as well.
The Influence of Teacher Education on Mathematics Teaching Knowledge: Local Implementation of Global Ideals
Are education systems converging toward a global model of teacher education or do local models tend to predominate in spite of attempts to reform them? How much do global, national, and local cultures shape and condition future teachers’ opportunities to learn to teach? How do these opportunities influence teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge? In this chapter we use data from the IEA’s first study of the effectiveness of pre-service teacher education in order to investigate teacher education policy, program structure, and outcomes. Using multilevel modeling we found that across countries individual characteristics have a similar and powerful influence on what future teachers come to know at the end of their pre-service programs. The effects of teacher education curriculum on future teachers’ mathematics pedagogical content knowledge reaffirm the prevalence of local cultures on the implementation of an increasingly globalized ideal. We conclude that while the provision of teacher education shares many common features in goals and structure across countries, it is strongly influenced by local conditions and norms, and by cultural notions of the knowledge that is considered essential – framing how quality is to be defined and operationalized – when learning to teach.
Building and Sustaining a Quality STEM Teacher Workforce: Access to Instructional Leadership and the Interruptions of Educator Turnover
Policymakers have focused on improving STEM outcomes for US high school students for over 50 years. Much of this focus has centered on improving the quality of STEM teachers, particularly in poor and minority schools. Few, if any, of these efforts have considered the importance of the content knowledge of those providing instructional leadership in schools – namely, principals and assistant principals. This chapter examines the percentage of school leaders with teacher certification in mathematics or science and the degree to which teacher and school leader turnover interrupts the leadership–teacher relationships. The study concludes relatively few school leaders have the content knowledge to provide deep instructional leadership. Moreover, the study finds combined teacher and school leader turnover greatly diminishes the sustained relationships between instructional leaders and teachers, particularly in lower-performing schools.
Since the late 1990s, teacher professional development models have shifted from a focus on individual improvement to collaboration as a means to foster support, information, and resource exchange between teachers. Following this shift, researchers began to use social network research methodology in the early 2000s to reveal the ways in which informal relationships affect teachers’ practices. This chapter reviews current literature on teachers’ social networks and teacher quality to describe the ways in which social networks mediate teachers’ practices. It provides detailed examples from two studies on teachers’ social networks and suggests ways that scholars can incorporate the constructs of social capital and social networks into large-scale research on teacher quality.
Conceptual Understandings of Democracy and Values as Aspects of Teacher Quality – The Case of Teacher Education in Sweden
This chapter focuses on a conceptual understanding of democracy and values education in teacher education, taking the perspective that education, of necessity, must encompass broader purposes of qualification, socialization and subjectification and that the relationship between them is characterized by interdependence. This chapter analyzes two aspects of teacher quality: first, the importance of values and the understanding of and approaches to values and democracy; second, variations in conceptual understandings within a particular educational field (teacher education). The study maps what teacher educators and institutional leaders for teacher education programs have to say about democracy and values education in relation to teacher preparation given the context of democratic education reforms in the postwar period. This chapter addresses issues such as the readiness among teachers to teach democracy and values as an overarching and qualitative aspect of the teaching profession. This study finds that, on the one hand, there is strong curricular support for democracy and related values education in schools and, on the other hand, a mixed landscape in teacher education. The situation within teacher education suggests an embracement of these issues but with a high degree of conceptual ambiguity and vagueness.
There is a strong body of research that indicates that teacher quality has a stronger effect on student learning than any other school-based factor. At the same time, most teacher evaluation systems have traditionally failed to distinguish among different levels of teacher effectiveness or to link evaluation results to professional development in meaningful ways. In this chapter, we compare teacher responses in S. Korea and the United States to evaluation policies. We provide initial evidence that teachers and principals in Seoul defined “effective teachers” as those who helped manage their schools in areas such as affairs/planning, curriculum/instruction, science and technology, discipline, and extra-curricular activities. In contrast, the Michigan teachers and principals in the study were more likely to view effective teachers as those who planned instruction to meet student needs and provided evidence of student engagement and learning. In addition, educators’ notions of effective teachers seemed related to their responses to new teacher evaluation policies. In particular, the teachers in Seoul strongly resisted the new teacher evaluation policies while their counterparts in Michigan either supported the new evaluation policies or at least did not actively resist them. These differences seemed related to regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive elements associated with the teacher evaluation policies in the jurisdictions where the teachers and principals worked.
This chapter reframes the notion of teacher quality to encompass teacher qualities and teaching quality in the context of current demands on teacher and student learning. The chapter includes an exemplary case study of a program that depicts the kinds of qualities and practices that would be needed for effective teaching and learning in an era characterized by the need for higher-level skills and knowledge. The final section presents the implications for pre-service and in-service professional development to address the challenges the reconceptualization of teacher quality presents.
Research has already uncovered a great deal of evidence about the individual and organizational qualities that enhance effective teaching and the kinds of qualifications (attributes) that are associated with effective teaching and learning. From a research perspective, increased precision and specificity in the definition and refinement of specific concepts (e.g., pedagogical content knowledge) will increase academic knowledge about the relationship between teacher characteristics, working conditions, and the quality of instruction that takes place. This knowledge may have little effect on policy formation. From a policy perspective, a holistic or organic conception of teacher quality will be critical for effective policy formation and implementation. At some point, academic knowledge about different aspects of effective or “quality” teaching need to be connected to a general concept of a quality teacher in order to be effectively inserted into policy debates and the general media. Systematic use of academic knowledge is often hindered by either the narrow focus of the research, or by its limited application to actual teacher practice. In spite of these limitations in academic research, there are areas where academics, policymakers, and practitioners have achieved consensus or are converging on shared constructs of promise. In other areas, both academic and political debates seem locked into conflict over constructs related to teacher quality. Identifying these three broad categories of consensus, convergence, and conflict provides a broad framework to assess the kinds of research and the kinds of reform that need to be carried out in order to promote and sustain teachers’ development and implementation of their professional skills in the classroom.
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- International Perspectives on Education and Society
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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