To the Editor:
Your article on several recent studies finding improvement in the academic background of teachers in city schools was for the most part not too bad (“Schools Hire Teachers With Stronger Credentials,” July 18, 2007). Qualifications for teachers have been going up for several years. But if you compare state achievement-test scores with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, you’ll see improved qualifications are not closing the achievement gap in any demonstrable way.
As your article states, many teachers with good credentials either end up quitting the profession or transferring to schools in wealthier areas or with fewer minority students. Some members of Teach For America, for example, see the program as a résumé-builder. They stay two rounds in a 30-round fight and call it quits. That New York City “comes out about even in its capacity to raise student test scores” when hiring TFA recruits is hardly a good indictment.
Regardless of their qualifications (college degrees, years of service, staff development received, certification, and so on), teachers in city schools have always outpaced private school teachers in terms of credentials. If qualifications are so important, why do private schools with less-qualified teachers score so much higher than urban public schools? When you understand the reasons, you’ll be much further down the road to knowing where the real problem lies and what solutions can help fix it.
Michael X. Gill