Saturday, October 16, 2010

Countries with top education systems attract top quality candidates

A new report from McKinsey & Co. is going to generate discussion along with lots of fussing from the US teachers corps and those who train teachers.

An Education Week article summarizes some of the McKinsey findings:

• Singapore, Finland and South Korea draw 100 percent of their teachers from the top 1/3 of the college academic pool
• In the US, only 23 percent of our teachers come from the top 1/3 of college students, and in our high poverty schools, its only 14 percent
• Teacher retention is a problem in the US, where 14 percent leave every year overall and 20 percent leave each year in high poverty schools. Overseas, annual losses are only 3 percent in Singapore and 1 percent in South Korea.

Salaries are an issue. Overseas:
• Teachers get retention bonuses of $10,000 to $36,000 every three to five years in Singapore
• Teachers get merit pay bonuses and increases of 10 to 30 percent of base pay

Certainly, as this graph from the McKinsey report shows, a very large proportion of US teachers comes from the lowest third of the college talent pool. In the US, nearly one out of two teachers (47%) comes from the bottom 1/3 of the ACT/SAT scorers.


Per Ed Week, the McKinsey authors say, “More than half of teachers (in the US) are trained in schools with low admission standards; many accept virtually any high school graduate who applies.”

Education Week interviewed Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, who supported those McKinsey findings. Says Walsh, “It’s easier to get into ed. school in the U.S. than it is to qualify to play college football.” Ms. Walsh added that most college sports programs require a minimum grade point average and SAT score, while some teacher-preparation programs don’t set such entry standards.

Quite naturally, complaints about the report have already started, and you can find some of them in the Ed Week article. More will certainly come as the McKinsey report adds more evidence that merit pay is a part of the success story in high performing education programs in foreign countries.

You can access the main McKinsey report and a separate appendix from links here.

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