To Train Teachers, a New Lesson Plan

August 23, 2012

A decade of intensive testing for students as a result of the No Child Left Behind law has shown that student performance directly correlates with the quality of teaching by an instructor. While the past decade has changed how teachers give instruction under the law, little has changed as far as teacher training has gone, says the Wall Street Journal.

An experimental program is underway in Chicago to improve academic results of students by changing the way new teachers are trained. The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) is a Chicago-based non-profit group that is at the forefront of this change.

  • AUSL enters a contract to manage schools, which remain under a district umbrella and are given the authority to hire and fire any part of the staff of any school under contract.
  • The program is modeled after medical residencies, where a new hire shadows a seasoned educator for a year to learn effective teaching techniques.
  • As of the past year, there are 25 schools with over 14,000 students in the program with over 500 teachers trained.

The AUSL, which was founded in 2001 by wealthy Chicago investor Martin Koldyke, is being modeled in other cities such as New York and Denver because of its success.

  • AUSL elementary schools have increased the number of students that pass its state benchmark test by 2.5 percent compared to non-AUSL schools, which have only increased its pass rate by 0.9 percent.
  • Moreover, the pass rate at high schools jumped 3.1 percent compared to the decline the rest of the school district has experienced.
  • Morton School, a K-8 elementary, had a failure rate of 80 percent in some years. Since the AUSL took over, the pass rate rose to 78.2 percent in 2012.

However, the AUSL has critics, primarily the teacher unions.  The unions argue that the program hurts morale by basically saying teachers are currently ineffective and need intervention. They argue that the AUSL receives many advantages. For example:

  • The AUSL gets $6,000 per student from the district on top of $420 extra per student to fund tutoring and extra-curricular activities.
  • Furthermore, AUSL receives a one-time payment of $300,000 for each school it takes over.
  • In addition, the mentees receive a salary between $30,000 and $40,000, while the mentors receive a 20 percent salary increase.

Source: Stephanie Banchero, "To Train Teachers, a New Lesson Plan," Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2012.

 

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