Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 59, No. 2, March/April 2008 p. 111-116
Teacher quality has been linked to narrowing the achievement gap along racial and economic lines, but legislators differ when it comes to identifying problems and offering solutions.
The article offers a look at three dominant existing terms that define teacher quality: highly qualified teacher, effective teacher and good teacher. These terms focus on teacher characteristics or qualifications, teacher outcomes, and teaching practices respectively. None of the terms appropriately reflects the complex system that supports teacher quality and all are criticized as having narrow foci and many limitations.
The researchers point out that reasons for poor teacher quality are as varied as the researchers. Some see the problem as supply/demand, whereas the profession is not attracting the "right" individuals for the jobs. Some view the problem in terms of preparation. According to them, students who leave university- based programs are not equipped with the tools to be effective in the contemporary classroom. Others see the problem as retention. Factors at play have been identified as teacher age, salaries, and working conditions. Of these, working conditions appear to be the most important.
The authors contend that the solution to the enhancement of teacher quality lies in the ability to address the overlapping systems problem. Teacher educators must understand the framing of research underpinning the teacher quality movement and how it pertains to local contexts. In addition, teacher educators must respond by examining their pedagogy and programs from a systemic perspective.