Still, it was good that the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) conducted such a study centering on Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and confirmed that the better teachers are not necessarily assigned to schools in such an area. The sponsors of the study are also to be commended: the Urban League of Greater Miami, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Beacon Council.
This is how Kate Walsh, president of the NCTQ, summarized the situation: While “incredible progress” has been made, only 33 percent of students meet National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) proficiency levels.
“When you look at teacher evaluations, all of their ratings appear to get the same: 99 percent satisfactory. That makes it look as if the teachers are great and the kids are failing,” Ms. Walsh said.
That is precisely what it is, whether it is an inner-city school in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach. The education system should have only one way of grading teachers: the success rate of their students.
There are, of course, teachers who put their heart into their profession and make every effort to ensure that their students are provided with a good education, which is the lifeline for future success. It is equally true that the environment in which a student lives weighs heavily on the chances that the student will succeed academically, making the work of the teacher potentially more difficult. Therefore the teachers who strive for student excellence deserve all the praise and encouragement they get.
But, again, as Ms. Walsh pointed out, only 15 percent of teachers “are that great” and only “one in seven kids gets that teacher.”
It behooves the school districts — and the teachers unions — to ensure that more such teachers are hired and more are assigned to the schools where they are needed.
Unless such actions are taken, the NCTQ study becomes merely an academic exercise.