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Are U.S. Teachers Teaching Too Much?

U.S. teachers spend more hours per year on classroom instruction than teachers from other major developed countries, according to data from 2008 (the most recent year available) collected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Wall Street Journal reports that among the 27 member nations tracked by the OECD, "U.S. primary-school educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching despite only spending 26 weeks a year in the classroom—among the lowest among the countries tracked." Meanwhile, the OECD average time spent on instruction is 786 hours.

Despite this statistic, the Journal explains that in a separate OECD report, student achievement in the U.S. "remains average in reading and science and slightly below average in math when compared to other nations."

But in fact there may be a link between high teaching hours and comparatively low achievement. A 2009 report by the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward) argued that, because they spend so much time teaching, U.S. teachers have less time than many of their international counterparts for lesson planning, collaborative work with colleagues, and professional development.

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