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Should Teachers Be Held Accountable for Student Learning?

Of course they should!

As most of you are aware, all staff from Central Falls High School in Rhode Island have been fired because the school has made little progress in improving student’s tests scores in reading and mathematics.

President Obama joined the discussion this week by stating, “If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn’t show any sign of improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of accountability.”  Later this month,  Secretary of Education Artie Duncan will release a list of 5,000 of the nation’s lowest performing schools.  The firing of teachers or at least making them reapply for their jobs is becoming a nationwide trend.  In Boston public schools announced that staff at six low-performing schools would have to apply for their jobs.  In California, staff in 188 low-performing schools would have to do the same.

I  do not know enough about the situation to form a opinion about whether these firings were justified.  I would like to know what assistance, if any, was provided to help these teachers succeed.  I feel certain that the problem in Rhode Island  did not begin in the high school.  How much professional development was provided by the superintendent or principal?  How much seniority did the principal have?  How much responsibility for learning did the parents have?  How much extra assistance was provided to students in the form of tutoring?  Were teachers supplied with qualified mentors?  Until we have answers to these questions, we should not rush to judgment.

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