Recruitment and Retention
Teachers make the greatest impact on students - what they learn, how they learn it, and what they do with the knowledge they gain in the classroom. Decades of research clearly demonstrate that a quality teacher, more than any other school factor, enables students to learn and even to overcome obstacles to learning, such as poverty and the achievement gap. The most effective teachers produce student gains almost four times greater than the least effective teachers. Students with three effective teachers in a row make gains almost three times higher than students with three ineffective teachers.
But many teachers lack the skills and opportunities they need to become high-quality educators, and many leave the classroom after just a few years of frustration with poor working conditions. Those who are most qualified generally work in schools where students are doing fairly well on their own, and half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years. One in four high school classes is taught by a teacher without a college major or minor in that subject. Students in poor and minority schools are twice as likely to have an inexperienced teacher. The same students are 61 percent more likely to be assigned an uncertified teacher.
As standards rise, testing increases, and achievement stagnates, the American high school graduates too few students, and even those students lack the skills they need for life after high school. If we are to help students meet the demands of college, work, and an increasingly competitive global economy, then we must provide them with skilled, effective teachers who make an impact on student learning and a dent in the achievement gap. And we must provide those teachers with supports and working conditions that enable them to succeed, especially those working in low-performing high schools with the most challenged students.
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