Does “highly qualified” mean effective?

A recent eSchoolNews article discusses whether “highly qualified” teachers are always effective teachers.  It is a dense article, filled with lots of great ideas about preparing teachers to thrive in the 21st century teaching and learning landscape.  The article presents some very interesting and surprising information:

  • Mariana Haynes, a senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE), shares research findings in a policy brief titled “Call for Action: Transforming Teaching and Learning to Prepare High School Students for College and Careers”.  Research studies confirm that “…the interaction between a student and teacher is the primary determinant of what students learn in school, with school leadership following as a close second.”  Also, “…having an effective teacher versus a less effective teacher for three consecutive years can alter a student’s achievement by as much as 50 percentage points…”  Wow.  And, this fact makes the scenario even more bleak, “… the chance that a student—let alone one who is disadvantaged—will be placed with a highly effective teacher for one year is about 15 percent; the likelihood of having an excellent teacher five years in a row is 1 in 17,000.”  As an educator and a parent, this information is alarming. 
  • The article focuses on the importance of collaboration in great teaching.  Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), and Hanna Doerr, program manager at NCTAF, state that “Effective teaching is not an individual accomplishment.  High-performing schools need well-qualified teachers and principals, but they don’t become great places to learn until those individuals join forces to create a collaborative learning culture that improves student achievement beyond what even the best of them can accomplish alone. Effective teaching is a team sport.”  Sadly, Carroll and Doerr point out that collaboration and teamwork are not emphasized in most pre-service programs.
  •  I was pleased to see the use of online learning communities to support teachers throughout their professional journey.  The Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC) provides an online platform for pre-service, novice, veteran teachers, and university faculty to work together.