Plenty of studies have found that what happens in schools actually plays a small role in student academic achievement — which, of course, does not mean we shouldn’t work as hard and as creatively as possible to help our students achieve their full potential. But it does point out that teachers should not be held 100% accountable for our students’ progress.
I’ve posted a number of resources on this topic at The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.
Here’s another study that’s a little old but, as far as I know, is still considered accurate. It’s from researcher Dan Goldhaber. Here’s a quote from it:
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In my opinion, and I know my position is not shared by the most vocal among us, while teachers should feel some responsiblity for inspiring learning, it is the student, and the student alone, that is responsible for “progress”. Teaching is simply not possible if a student has no desire to learn. Teachers have to stop accepting responsibility for lack of student progress. I’m not suggesting teachers stop trying, although some will no doubt read such a message into this comment. Popular media seems to be suggesting that it is more and more the responsibility of teachers to ensure the success of students by incessantly producing novel ways to reach each and every individual student. And this at a time when everybody is concerned with the funding crisis in education!?! Teachers teach; students learn, or they don’t. At some point, sufficient students eventually realize that they are responsible for learning if they want to succeed, and if they don’t, well, there’s always a need for uneducated basic labour. Realism; not pessimism.
I hear the frustration Dave but the day when teachers absolve themselves of responsibility is the day we lose all credibility. When you affirm “we should never stop trying” you restored some faith in me because that is the essence of taking responsibility. Research conclusively states that all children are capable of learning, so the highly effective teacher plans, assesses and monitors and then makes adjustments both individually and at group level to ensure that they are “growing” ” their students. If some lack desire, plans are made to address that so that they can move forward. Parents are involved at all levels to ensure we are all clear about what needs to happen for any given student to allow continued growth.
Read Robert Marzano’s research on school /teacher effectiveness and the impact on student achievement… Quite compelling.
My role is to help value add to my teachers skill sets so they can best cater for all their students needs. It is far too easy for some of our educators to say “Well I taught them; I didn’t say they could do it, but I did teach them.”
Yes, you taught them… How well, how often, how did you measure progress, how did you review the material, what different strategies did you use when some didn’t get it? These are the conversations that should occur in order for teachers to keep improving and thus students.