During the first three weeks of the East Carolina University graduate course, SCIE 6020, informally titled World Class Science Education, students enrolled in the class have read the introductory chapter and the first chapter of Marc Tucker's book titled, Surpassing Shanghai. They have also examined NAEP science and math scores in North Carolina as compared to scores from neighboring states - and found that NC students score better than most Southern States, except Virginia. Next, they will soon be examining TIMSS and PISA scores to learn how the United States and North Carolina are doing compared to the other OECD nations. Most everyone reading this blog can anticipate the answers.
What students in the class know already is that compared with, at least, Shanghai and Finland (the chapter they are now reading), teachers are held in high esteem in those two settings. Being selected into teacher preparation, preparing for teaching and being employed as a teacher are rigorous processes in Shanghai and Finland. They will also be learning about becoming a teacher in Japan, Singapore and Canada. Are teachers in these countries held to high esteem as well? Are they rigorously prepared? How well are they supported as beginning teachers? Are they well-compensated? How different are the conditions for teaching? These are some of the questions that students in SCIE 6020 are examining.
I invite colleagues who have some direct experiences in these or other nations to share your observations about teachers and teacher preparation as you have witnessed it in other countries.