Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

To Raise PISA Scores, We Must Support Teachers

January 11, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The 2009 results from the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, show average scores in reading, science, and math for American students (“U.S. Rises to International Average in Science,” Dec. 7, 2010). These findings are another wake-up call that the status quo is no longer acceptable. The United States built the greatest economy in history by leading the world in education. If we want to reclaim that position, we must lead the way again and adopt proven policies that will move us forward.

Before rushing to judgment about the next steps needed to improve our schools, we should look at comparable, successful nations and try to learn from their experiences. Examining the PISA results in more detail gives an intriguing insight into how other nations boost student learning and performance and underscores the importance of elevating the teaching profession.

Canada, in the top five on PISA, has strengthened teacher preparation, raised salaries, and given teachers more autonomy to be instructional leaders. Canada’s policymakers significantly increased professional development and welcomed teachers as partners in reform. Meanwhile, U.S. practitioners fend off efforts to deprofessionalize teaching, with repeated calls for shortcut routes into the classroom and limits on pay for advanced degrees. And our teachers are subject to prescriptive mandates such as those under the No Child Left Behind Act that limit instruction to basic-level skills.

Teacher professionalism matters. In a report on international examples of successful education systems, the global firm McKinsey & Co. found strong systems are “characterized by higher skill educators, [and] provide only loose, central guidelines for teaching and learning processes, in order to encourage peer-led creativity and innovation inside schools, the core driver for raising performance at this stage.”

We need to focus on what leading countries are doing to improve public education, and take an honest look at the respect and support that we give to our nation’s teacher corps.

Dennis Van Roekel

President

National Education Association

Washington, D.C.

A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2011 edition of Education Week as To Raise PISA Scores, We Must Support Teachers

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 19, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read