Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Everyone Needs Professional Inquiry

October 02, 2018 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Education researcher Thomas Guskey badly misses the forest for the trees in his recent Education Week blog post (“How Can We Improve Professional Inquiry?” Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground blog, www.edweek.org, Sept. 9, 2018). While classroom teachers often hold their students’ research projects to high standards, Guskey claims, “educators frequently conduct professional inquiries in ways they would never consider acceptable from students.” He derides teachers’ use of Google searches, social media posts, and even books to elicit answers to teaching questions—rather than using researched-based sources, such as journal articles and scientific studies.

However, the much wider problem is not that individual teachers fail to ground daily lessons practice in sound theory. It’s that too often our educational leaders, in creating national policy, fail to do the same. No Child Left Behind ushered in a punitive, untried test-based accountability model whose apparent gains, when finally subjected to careful research, were proven to be either highly questionable or downright fraudulent. The Common Core State Standards is another example of an untested national mandate. Yet educational researcher Daniel Koretz, in his 2017 book The Testing Charade, writes, “It’s not just the common core that has been dropped into schools wholesale before we gathered any evidence about impact; this has been true of almost the entire edifice of test-based reform, time and time again.” Perhaps in the end the problem isn’t just that individual teachers need to consult evidence- and research-based literature to inform their practices. Perhaps our policymakers need to do so, too.

Alden Bird

English Teacher

U-32 High School

Montpelier, Vermont

A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 2018 edition of Education Week as Everyone Needs Professional Inquiry


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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

Teaching Profession Opinion How I’m Keeping Ahead of Burnout: 4 Tips for Teachers
An English teacher shares her best advice for battling the long-haul blahs until spring break.
Kelly Scott
4 min read
Young woman cartoon character making step from gloomy grey rainy weather to sunny clear day.
iStock/Getty + Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion Why Is the Nation Invested in Tearing Down Public Education?
Education professor Deborah Loewenberg Ball argues that panic over test scores keeps us from building on the strengths of our children.
Deborah Loewenberg Ball
5 min read
Illustration of school text books and wrecking ball.
F. Sheehan for Education Week / Getty
Teaching Profession Teachers Censor Themselves on Socio-Political Issues, Even Without Restrictive State Laws
A new survey from the RAND Corporation found that two-thirds of teachers limit their instruction on political and social issues in class.
4 min read
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class is debating whether President Trump should be impeached. The House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has become a teachable moment in classrooms around the country as educators incorporate the events in Washington into their lesson plans.
Civics teacher Aedrin Albright stands before her class at Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The class was debating whether President Trump should be impeached. A new national survey found that a majority of teachers are now limiting instruction on political and social issues in class.
Allen G. Breed/AP
Teaching Profession 10 Major Challenges for Substitute Teachers
Substitute teachers want more support to do their jobs well. One state has identified their top concerns.
4 min read
Illustration of people climbing stacks of books. There are 3 stacks of books at different heights with people helping people climb up.