Despite growing evidence that expert teachers are critical to educational achievement, well-prepared and effective teachers are the most unequally distributed educational resource in the United States. Since federal supports for urban school funding and teacher training were dramatically reduced in the 1980s, teacher shortages in schools serving low-income students have increased. Since then, it has been increasingly common for students in poor rural and urban schools to experience a revolving door of inexperienced and underprepared teachers.
Linda Darling-Hammond describes why test-based incentives are inadequate to support teaching quality and educational equity, and why a capacity-building approach is critically important to promote effective teaching in all communities, particularly those where it is currently most lacking.
This article was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Voices in Urban Education, Education as a Civil Right, which examines two broad approaches to teaching quality that are sometimes seen as mutually exclusive: performance management and instructional capacity building.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.