It’s Not Rocket Science

March 17th, 2011

Category: News

Countries that continually outperform the United States recruit teaching candidates from the top tier of students, provide in-depth support throughout their careers, and hold them accountable for results, according to the recently released report What the U.S. Can Learn From the World’s Most Successful Education Reform Efforts.


The report lists four steps we could take to increase the competitiveness of our students internationally, many of which are already underway in Delaware through Race to the Top.  These include:

·         Adopting rigorous and coherent education standards – which are similar the Common Core standards adopted by Delaware;

·         Develop leaders at the local and school level – Delaware is putting in place similar practices through career pathways and alternate route principal preparation programs in schools;

·         Establish ongoing summative assessments and intervention – this is an essential component of our recently implemented DCAS testing system and data coach positions; and

·         Invest resources at the school level – various stakeholders have advocated for this policy previously, including Rodel, Vision 2015, the LEAD Committee, and Governor Markell. 


In addition to those recommendations, the report highlights many best practices that we are currently developing or have advocated for previously (and other states are doing), including:

·         Limiting entry into teaching preparation programs to top tier candidates that would normally pursue opportunities in other prestigious fields, as in Finland (Rhode Island recently enacted a policy to require a minimum score on teacher preparation program entry examinations);

·         Expecting continuous improvement among staff through rigorous and meaningful evaluations tied to subsequent professional development opportunities, as in Singapore; and

·         Holding teachers accountable for student learning, as in Ontario (the District of Columbia Public Schools requires teachers make positive student learning gains in order to be rated effective on their IMPACT evaluation system).


As these countries demonstrate, the key to building a high-performing education system requires an unwavering focus on the ends – coupled with flexibility and support on the means.  In Delaware, we are well on our way to implementing these best practices in our schools – but still have a long way to go in order to lift overall student achievement on par to our international counterparts. 



Brett Turner



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