Professional Development Opinion

Raise Scores With Teacher Prep, Not Test Prep

By David Ginsburg — October 28, 2012 1 min read
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Last post I asserted that the more schools focus on coaching teachers rather than evaluating them, the more student learning improves. And now some great news to back up this assertion: Two urban schools, Esperanza Academy and Freire Charter, where I’ve coached math teachers are among the top 12 performing high schools in Pennsylvania (out of 682) based on 2012 student achievement growth in mathematics. (I’ve also coached English teachers at Esperanza, and their growth in reading ranks 46th out of 682.)

Both schools have strong leaders and dedicated staffs who were doing great work before I started supporting them. Still, Esperanza’s Director of Curriculum Lori Walinsky says coaching has led to “higher levels of efficacy for our teachers and higher levels of proficiency for our students.” Freire’s Head of School Kelly Davenport also says student learning has improved as a result of teacher coaching.

I’m sharing this news to further establish the unmatched power of coaching to improve teaching and learning. But whereas last post I made the case for coaching qualitatively, I’m now doing it quantitatively, since numbers often speak louder than words.

And it’s my hope that numbers like these speak so loudly that schools stop choosing mind-numbing test prep over stimulating curriculum. Do what’s right for students, and test scores take care of themselves. And nothing could be more right for students than providing teachers the practical support--coaching--they need to perform to their potential.

As for the scope of such support, a lot of ideas that have helped schools improve teaching and learning are available to you too--on this blog. Here are a few of many posts with insights and strategies that have made a difference for staff and students at Esperanza, Freire, and many other schools:

As with all new ideas, of course, impact depends on implementation, so reach out for support (david@ginsburgcoaching.com) as you try suggestions from these or any other posts. Let’s work together to raise scores through teacher prep, not test prep.

Image by GECC, with permission

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