Report shows educational achievement gap keeps US in permanent national recession

September 23, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

By Sophie Byrne

Michael Gove is committed to improving educational attainment, especially of those on free school meals.  Conservatives, rightly, emphasise the importance of excellent teachers and excellent school leaders. But the question of who should teach is a controversial one.  Potential Conservatives initiatives include only funding people with 2:1 university degrees to train as teachers, attracting top maths and science graduates to teaching by paying off their student loans and launching an equivalent of Teach First to quickly get successful City professionals into teaching without training for two years.

Whether having a 2:1 undergraduate degree as a minimum requirement for teaching is an appropriate criteria for developing excellent school leadership is questionable.  As all the excellent teachers without a 2:1 will attest.

McKinsey’s new report Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching highlights the potential economic importance of this debate. The report reviews the world’s top-performing education systems — Finland, Singapore and South Korea — and found that all of their teachers are recruited from the top third of the academic cohort.  The report contrasts this with the United States, but the analysis could be extended to the United Kingdom.  In the United States only 23% of teachers come from this top cohort, and of that group only 13% work in schools with high levels of deprivation. The report asks what kind of effort would be required to attract more top graduates to the profession, and highlights that it is a monumental task (Exhibit).

This debate may seem like another political debate but the McKinsey report highlights that for the US the stakes are high — a persistent achievement gap between US students and those in top-performing nations imposes the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession — a pretty sobering thought.

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services, Schools & Multi-School Trusts.

Francis Beckett’s Humanist Conservatoire How much are we really spending?

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