Maybe the best teachers should teach more kids
Here's a teacher-quality-related idea that might crash up against Florida's class-size amendment but could dovetail with its efforts to expand virtual schooling. The national consulting firm Public Impact says in this new report that instead of trying to boost the ranks of top teachers by doing more to recruit, train and retain, maybe districts should expand the reach of the top teachers they already have -- by giving them more students either directly or virtually.
Public Impact calls these teachers 3X teachers -- because research shows that teachers in the top 20 percent get three times the learning gains of teachers in the bottom 20 percent. The report says that efforts to boost their ranks are doomed to fall short, which is why a new approach is needed.
Despite these efforts -- and even if they grow far faster -- our nation still will not have an excellent teacher in every classroom. Why? Simply put, the magnitude of the gap is too enormous. For example, as an article in The Atlantic reported, Georgia has 440 high schools but only 88 certified physics teachers. And, if those 88 follow the typical distribution, only 15 or so are top-notch teachers. None of the strategies we are pursuing as a nation could realistically move Georgia from having 15 excellent physics teachers to having 440. Students in 425 schools in Georgia will have a sub-optimal learning experience in a subject that's vital to the economic prospects of our nation.