To the Editor:
Mary Amato’s recent Commentary “What Are We Doing to Support Great Teachers?” (Sept. 25, 2013) discusses a critically important goal: having an excellent teacher in every classroom.
To her question about how we accomplish this, I think the best answer is the most neglected. We need to appoint and support strong principal leaders at the head of every school. The research on this point is definitive.
As the New Teacher Project noted in 2012, strong teachers leave schools with weak principal leadership, and weak teachers stay in those same schools.
Strong teachers want to know that the hard work and dedication they pay to each and every child in their classes is going to be sustained across the system. It would break “Mrs. Obstgarten’s” heart to see her students grow by two years of reading proficiency in a year only to be placed with a series of teachers who will lose those gains within two years.
Effective principals hire and retain whole systems of effective teachers who work together as a team to accomplish often-stunning achievement for all students. In fact, one study showed that the most effective 16 percent of principals had more of an impact on students than a reduction in class size, and that they measured two to seven months of added growth for every child on their campuses.
Ms. Amato is absolutely correct when she states that the solution to our education woes is getting and keeping great teachers—one for every child every year.
Vice President of Knowledge
School Leaders Network