Tools for Action
Quality Teaching Leads to Success
Abundant studies show a connection between teacher preparation and student success. In other words, the more qualified the teacher, the greater the chances that our children will succeed in school. Excellent teachers make a huge difference in the academic achievement of students.
Yet we are faced with the fact that our schools tend to be more successful at teaching White students than Hispanic and other minority students. The achievement gap is even larger for this country’s 4.4 million children who speak a language other than English. These children are being taught in some capacity by 1.3 million teachers. But only 154,000 of these teachers have had eight or more hours of preparation in the last three years on how to teach these students.
These teachers want to do a good job. But many do not have opportunities or support to prepare themselves adequately. This is just one example of how one group of students is being affected by the lack of qualified teachers.
The good news is that this problem has a solution. We have the expertise to develop the qualified teachers that are needed. To be successful, it is important, however, that the public understand the issues and become actively engaged in creating a scenario where every student, regardless of color, national origin, religion or gender, is taught by a qualified teacher.
A Snapshot of What IDRA is Doing
Developing Leaders – Each month, IDRA works with more than 10,000 parents, educators, principals and school board members to expand educational leadership and effectiveness, and to increase community and institutional support for quality teaching. As examples of this work, IDRA’s Transitions and T-TExAS initiatives, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, are providing accelerated teacher certification programs that increase the number of fully-qualified and credentialed ESL/bilingual teachers working with English language learners in “high-need” schools. To learn more about the Transition and T-TExAS projects, see the April issue of the IDRA Newsletter, “Promoting Excellence in Teaching Through A Highly Qualified Teaching Force.”
IDRA’s MathSmart! training offers secondary school math teachers innovative technology-based strategies to make math come alive in their classrooms. See http://www.idra.org/Services/Math_Smart!_Secondary_Training/.
Conducting Research – IDRA embeds research-based models of content delivery and pedagogy into all professional development. For example, through its Reading Early for Academic Development (READ) project, IDRA is establishing a scientific foundation for policy and practice by creating centers of excellence for diverse children. Our research is showing dramatic results among participating children. See story entitled, “Quality Professional Development Creates ‘Classrooms of Excellence.'”
Informing Policy – IDRA’s ongoing analysis and testimony on school finance, teacher certification, bilingual education and English language learning has long been a resource to policymakers, community members and education leaders. In addition to informing public policy, IDRA works to improve education policy, for example, recommending actions that universities can undertake to recruit, teach, and certify bilingual education teachers and to foster their leadership in bilingual and bicultural education.
Engaging Communities – During the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Early Childhood Educators Institute, IDRA hosts a special full-day institute for parents to concentrate on early childhood education and how to maximize parent leadership. More than 150 parents participate with a panel of experts on state policies, home and school curricula, and leadership development. They then work together to develop a concrete plan of action for exerting leadership in early childhood education.
What You Can Do
Get informed. At the local level, by finding out from school principals and teachers themselves, if teachers in your children’s schools are certified in the subjects they teach. (For more information, see Pláticas en Acción: Quality Teaching, http://www.idra.org/education_policy/platicas-en-accion-english/ published by IDRA’s Parent Information Resource Center). To learn more about the status of teacher certification, see State Board for Educator Certification in Texas at http://www.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/default.asp.
Get involved. Promote teacher certification and quality instruction by working with your schools and public officials if teachers in your local area lack adequate training or certification and need additional training, preparation and support. Advocate teacher preparation and professional development that ensures teacher competence in teaching diverse students. See “Seven Principles for Effective Professional Development for Diverse Schools,” by Dr. Abelardo Villarreal at IDRA (June-July 2005; http://www.idra.org/resource-center/seven-principles-for-effective-professional-development-for-diverse-schools/).
Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at email@example.com.
[©2006, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]