On The Move

Two reasons to read this new Consortium on Chicago School Research study on teacher mobility in Chicago.  First, it’s well done and an important issue.  Second, the consortium model is expanding so you’ll see more of this style of work in other cities.

2 Replies to “On The Move”

  1. And with the Consortium’s former director now heading IES, we can expect that this sort of research and model for collecting and analyzing data will become the “law of the land” with regard to the redefinition of “scientifically based education research.”

  2. Teacher mobility rates sure look a lot like teacher retention rates. In either case, about half the teacher leave (their school) or leave (the profession) within five years. While the Consortium’s report cites many reasons, only one really matters: “Teachers stay in schools where they feel they can help kids learn.” (I’m paraphrasing here.) Did we really need a study to figure this out?

    The #1 problem teachers face in helping kids learn is poor attendance. I worked in an inner city district for three years where kids routinely missed more than 45 days per semester. The district’s own rules are that 10 absences per semester constitutes grounds for failing. But teachers were not allowed to follow this rule because district administrators were afraid to show true failure rates. Kids who don’t show up to school are very, very hard to teach and take a teacher’s time away from other kids.

    The #2 problem has to do with how kids act when they do come to school. Discipline in this district was non-existent. Know why? Because the district refused to use any kind of research-based discipline model. Each school was left to its own devices (and it’s own weak leadership) to figure out how best to keep discipline. What happened? Teachers were told they simply couldn’t send kids out of their classrooms even when they were chronic disturbances.

    The third and final problem we have to face has to do with the way standards-based education often forces teachers to teach material that is several years above their students’ ability levels. Knowing in advance that your students are 4-8 years below grade level in high school should be a cue to teach differently than the state requires. There’s no way that kids with reading levels of 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade can read the sophomore year English textbook. Yet teachers are required to use it, and to teach to the sophomore state standards and sophomore year state test. This is disheartening to teachers who care about kids’ learning.

    Let’s get one thing straight: Teachers teach to help kids learn. They don’t do it for money, they don’t do it for ambition, they don’t do it to win awards, or to become famous. They teach to help kids learn. Period. And they will always stay in a school that helps them do that. And only the worst teachers will stay in schools that don’t.

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