To the Editor:
The McKinsey & Co. report “How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top” was described well in your article “Teachers Seen as Making Difference in World’s Top Schools” (Nov. 7, 2007). The report argues for the importance of teacher quality, saying, “The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.”
Teacher quality, however, is a necessary but insufficient condition for an effective education system; teachers also need to be delivering their part of a coherent pre-K-16 curriculum. Even great teachers will be ineffective, and frustrated, if they teach curricula that are inconsistent with what came before or what will come after.
Both issues can be addressed by making teachers integral to curriculum reform, promoting coherence while attracting stronger individuals to teaching. Making teachers the central players would raise their level of respect, a focus of this report.
Programs that promote teacher leadership and effectiveness while empowering teachers to drive the reform of education are the key to continuous improvement. Meaningful communication and consensus building among teachers at all grade levels are essential to this process.
A version of this article appeared in the November 28, 2007 edition of Education Week as For Quality, Give Teachers Role in Curriculum Reform