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NCLB and the Teacher Shortage

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Low salaries aren’t the only obstacles when it comes to filling teacher vacancies. According to an Arizona Republic story, the No Child Left Behind “highly qualified” requirement could be contributing to local and national teacher shortages. To be eligible for hire, teachers must now have a bachelor’s degree, a state certification or license, and a proven knowledge of their subject. For most, a major in their subject, an advanced certification from the state, or a graduate degree satisfies the “proven knowledge” prerequisite. With NCLB under review, some school leaders and politicians argue that these requirements don’t reflect effective teaching and actually prevent talented teachers from reaching the classroom.

Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn, Joe Lieberman, I-Conn, and Mary Landrieu, D-La, are proposing an education bill, All Students Can Achieve Act of 2007, that would grant states greater flexibility for measuring teacher effectiveness. “In our proposal, we ask states to focus for the first time on actual teacher performance, rather than simply on paper qualifications,” Lieberman told AP.

11 Comments

It just seems unlikely that greater flexibility will bring about improvement. The current level of flexibility has brought about a least common denominator effect. Basically teachers who taught out-of-field at the outset were able to get "grandfathered" in through some combination of prior work history and PD credit. Did it bring any great change--not much. Might it eventually bring some change--perhaps as the older generation retires and are replaced by newer teachers without the grandfathering options. Does it guarantee any greater level of effectiveness--yes and no. I believe that the research strongly supports the need for math, and to a lesser extent, science teachers, to be educated in their field. Not so much in English and Social Studies.

One unlooked for byproduct of the "flexibility" granted the states, is that teachers with degrees in special education were able to quickly become "highly qualified" in a core content area by picking up some summer classes. It is really a shame that this has not resulted students with special needs having greater access to teachers with content specializations.

I recommend perusing your state's practice exams for 8-12 English, Language Arts and Reading, Social Studies, Math, and Science in order to make informed decisions as to how effectively such instruments assess the content area knowledge of teachers.

Regardless the grade level and weather it is a special ed. or gen. ed. setting teachers' performance should be evaluated based on the students' performance and achievement. Very optimistically, 80% of the teachers provide services not to really teach the children and save them but just for the pay check.For the low performance and the failure, these teachers blame their students while the reason for the failure is the teacher's unability of teaching.So I believe that teachers should be evaluated and awarded based on the students' performance.

As an veternan teacher with both a BA and MA in education they are two flaws I see with the highly qualified requirements. First, the new teachers do not get enough of courses at college on child development, educational psychology, school law, and method courses that they need. They are very knowledgeable in subject areas such as Language Arts but weak in other areas that must also be studied to understand children's emotion and developmental needs. This is because on a college level you can't fit in all the courses you need to teach. Also, many start to teach and soon realize it is not a 9 to 4 job. To do the job well teachers put in many extra hours which the public does not see. Some of the new teachers soon leave the profession because of all the extra off school hour time they must put into the career.
Second, colleges are not preparing new teachers for the amount or kind of work teaching includes. With the extra required courses teachers must get two degrees to qualify. Most people are trying to pay off one loan for their first degree and can't afford a second degree even if they like to get another one. Some of the younger people feel that they just can afford to be teachers anymore. If they have to get two degrees or have two majors they go into different fields such as engineering and business because at least at the conclusion of their college work they get paid better and can pay back their loans.

Also, NCLB has little if any parent or community requirements. It takes a whole village to raise and educate a child, not just their classroom teacher.

Content knowledge is not an obstacle to obtaining quality teachers; rather, it is an essential component of being a qualified and successful teacher. I teach Latin I-V; I shudder to think of someone, who has little training in Latin, teaching this demanding, logic intensive and broad area of study. Imagine a teacher trying to explain what a relative clause of purpose is in a meaningful and understandable way when the teacher herself does not know what it is. All the research I have seen in my education classes demonstrates that a broad knowledge of one's content area is essential; yet, the debate rages as to whether it is necessary at all.
On the other hand, it is difficult to obtain these advanced degrees and be able to afford to be a teacher. I have completed a Masters in my content area and am one class short of a Masters in Education; yet, I can barely afford to live on my current salary (in response to Betul: if teachers were in it for the "paycheck" we would certainly choose a higher paying profession, more commensurate with our educational attainments. However, your point about teacher failure is clearly valid in your case, as you demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of English grammar, syntax, and spelling). If one wants to attract more higher quality teachers, the answer clearly is more programs of loan forgiveness and financial incentives for further study on the collegiate and post-collegiate level.

I am a Special Education teacher at the High School level and teach Resource English to 10, 11, and 12 grades students with learning disabilities, who reach 3 to 6 grades below grade level. I am now certified in Elementary, Reading Specialist, Special Ed, and HIgh School English. I most recently (April) passed my HS English with no prep (college coursework)just experience in teaching the subject matter. Some of our students (LD) with higher reading levels are not taught in the regular ed classroomss by teachers who are "highly qualified" in Special Education? Why the bias??

I am a second year teacher who is on my second career. I have a BA, MA and pursing an Ed.D in Teacher Leadership. I currently teach a marketing class and absolutely love it. I did not have formal education training, although I feel I have been just as effective as some teachers who have been working for many years. My evaluations have been exemplary,and I have been asked to be dept chair. With the outside knowledge of the business community and it's workings, teachers with outside knowledge, can do just as good of a job as a teacher who has been in the classroom longer and has the burnout feeling. While I agree teachers should be tested to ensure they are knowledgeable in the areas they are to teach, testing should be an option to the district, plus their evaluation and maybe given a probation period,then it would be up to the campus to see if they are to continue the teacher employed.
With the changes in education, there needs to be a change in the way teachers are brought in, and with the increase of retired teachers, and lack of teachers left to teach, then maybe there needs to a new way to hiring new teachers.

In regards to Betel's comments that suggest that all teachers be paid based on student performance. Why not simply close all low socioeconomic area schools. Why? Because you will find very few teachers who will work in a place where they know they will be paid less and accused of failure due to the many conditions over which the teacher has no control.
Kids, in general, do not perform well in school when they come from broken homes where dad is in prison and mom is hooking on the street just to pay the rent. A classroom full of these kids could have the most skilled and professional teacher in the history of the world and the vast majority of the students will not achieve. These kids simply have far too many other issues to deal with that put getting an education completely on the backburner. So, is it really fair to lay blame at the feet of the teacher, who has zero control over the living conditions of the child, when that child does not perform well in school?
Bye the way, I speak from experience as many of my students come from "homes" just as previously described.


It is clear most of those commenting and reporting here don't talk to parents, or know any home-schoolers. All seem very out of touch, unable to lead, and dominated by the stupidity of political leaders who have used the school systems as fodder for their sell-out of the people to corporate interests.

Both Bush presidents were liars about their support for education, and GOV. Bush just re-classified any student with poor test results as learning disabled, removed their scores form averages to insure improved reprts for political use, and forced teachers in to massive remidial learning plans for many at the expense of the children, the teachers, and the future of our workforce competitiveness.

Wake up, and try to be honest.
Stop blaming the children.
You are not teachers any more.
Just wage slaves like all corporatist state services become and unable to act as independent citizens in the Orwellian future delivered by our politicians.

Try to speak out and do something.


I am a parent in a low SES area. I will try to put aside the allegation that my children's daddy(s) are in jail and that I am out hooking every day to pay the rent. Not only is this untrue for me personally, but for the bulk of my neighbors, and the parents that I have worked with for many years as a social worker. It is problematic to have teachers who are detached from the daily lives of their students. While I have some educational credentials and (I hope) don't even LOOK like a hooker, my children are profoundly affected by this sort of attitude by their teachers.

Yes, Chris, students with disabilities who receive an education in regular education classes should have access (at least) to a highly qualified teacher of special education. The ideal is somewhere along the continuum of collaboration to team teaching. It's probably going to take the Special Education teachers taking the lead to make that happen. I realize that's a difficult stance--kids with disabilities are frequently not even on the radar of regular ed teachers--and Special Ed teachers have been the rescuers against the odds and with few resources for way too long a time. But its simply got to happen, for the good of the kids.

For centuries there were no accreditation devices for teachers, but we did all right. Now we have laws that say that a person must be in school whether the person wants to be or not up to the age of 18 years old. We have destroyed the family unit so that a children is not sure what a family is and what a family does. But we never mention that as a factor in the collapsing education system. We have made it dangerous for man to hug his own children. We have made the weird normal and the normal shameful. We are using the military, prisons, and schools as warehouses for human beings. We use war as a way to exterminate men of whom we believe might cause trouble later on. We cure all of our ills with more and more expensive tests for the students and for the teachers. The tests are to prove what the teachers have paid tens of thousands of dollars to learn was learnt. We pass anti-discrimination laws that are totally worthless and cannot be enforced. America there is only one word to describe you--"He Haw."

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