Report examines how other countries improve teacher quality
- As the United States continues to struggle with performance, quality and equity in its education system, a new study from the National Center on Education and the Economy examined how other countries approach affirming and strengthening teacher quality. The study found successful countries “focused on building effective systems” and made a “commitment to professionalizing teaching.”
- Successful international education systems recruit high-performing college graduates into the teaching profession, in part by offering competitive salaries. The governments of these countries often subsidize the additional education and training a teacher may need so that it is a viable option to all applicants.
- Education systems in successful countries also require high standards for admission to schools of education. Such institutions often mandate that the schools “instill a mastery of both the subject(s) the individual will teach as well as the actual craft of teaching.”
Teacher salaries in the United States can vary, but PayScale found a $43,734 average annual salary for an elementary school teacher. Additionally, the cost of necessary additional education can burden potential educators with student loans. While education funding is often high, recent reports suggest high spending levels of per-pupil funding is not necessarily a good barometer for success. As the country faces a teacher shortage, it is possible that potential educators are looking at low salaries and costly education coupled with loans, as well as concerns about job security and are determining the rewards in teaching are not worth these struggles.
Student loan forgiveness for individuals in public service careers has come under the crossfire of the Trump administration, and may soon disappear as a potential lure to new educators. But even programs such as that one are merely a stopgap as opposed to the comparatively robust support other countries offer teachers. Still more must be done to enrich teacher training programs, to provide greater instruction around cultural sensitivity and pedagogy to help teachers understand how to make learning relevant to different groups of students and to prevent burnout. Finding opportunities for teachers to lead without leaving the classroom and providing other ways to offer fulfillment and communicate teachers are valued is also essential.