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Is the U.S. All Wrong? Teacher Training Breaking the Mold

From The Hechinger Report

Why Americans should not be coming up with their own solutions to teacher training issues
A look at British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore


Professional development of American teachers costs up to $18 billion a year with at least half of that spent on workshops for teachers. But no matter how much we spend, it doesn’t seem to result in much improvement in student achievement.

Several other countries are doing a better job than the U.S. in developing teachers.
The Center on International Education Benchmarking of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) recently released two reports which look at the four educational systems that perform best on international student achievement tests: British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

The Hechinger Report’s Emmanuel Felton wrote last week about a panel of education experts who gathered in Washington to discuss the reports — one by Ben Jensen and another by Minxuan Zhang and colleagues — which focused mainly on how these four systems improve their teachers’ craft.

Read the rest of Tucker’s op-ed. Marc Tucker is the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C.



“Many of the points in this “report” are powerful. They represent the best of what goes on in some US schools (usually wealthy districts) and Universities. However there are many “lower tier” Universities and colleges that do a far better job preparing new teachers than “upper tier” ones precisely because they have hired present and former Master teachers to teach methodology courses.

Generalizations are both positive and negative. Singapore and Shanghai are also nationalized systems unlike the US where local control is both the law and preference. Universities are either private, state, or city run (CUNY in NYC).

Finally, We have to stop measuring student academic achievement based on standardized and sanitized tests. Even the “higher tier” Universities have published a report to that effect titled “Turning the Tide.” 

-David Greene is a program consultant for WISE Services, a former teacher and coach for 38 years, the author of “Doing the Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks”and former treasurer of the organization “Save Our Schools.” 



Teacher training, as an eye-raising topic of discussion, has greatly lacked in national coverage. Now we see global conversations tying teacher training approaches and methodologies to global student outcomes. Ouch from the U.S. side of the discussion. Anytime the U.S. educational system results are shared, fair or foul, the are painted in a less-than-appealing manner. The benefit of this larger and global discussion brings a core component of education into the forefront. 

For some unimaginable reason teacher training has, for the most part, sidestepped many of the gripping narratives in education. Focus has been on data, data and more data. Funding and policy have been active discussion points as well, but the delving into our preparatory system has long held the infamous “get out of jail” free card. 

The compelling thread of Tucker’s piece lies in how preparatory programs build rigorous standards of practice and thresholds for competence tied to program acceptance. The larger question looks at perception and exclusivity tied to the profession of teaching. We are quickly learning that less is more, in other countries, and that having a bank of every corner (substitute teacher programs) only waters down the rigor and public perception of what is required to become an educator. 


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