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Jensen 1

Victoria Jensen

English 1010

Section 2

Jackie Burr

22 December 2017

Improving The Quality of Public Education in America:

Choosing Highly Qualified Teachers.

American students are not receiving an optimal education because they are not being

taught effectively by their teachers. As a result of this quality of education, only 86% of students

within the state of Utah are graduating-many children in elementary grade levels are testing

below national averages and are failing to progress within the education system as they should

(Board of Education 3). In order to improve the education system, school district administrations

should allow their teachers more freedoms regarding how they teach in their classrooms.

Teachers should aspire to inspire their students with a love of gaining knowledge rather than

memorizing curriculum; by focusing the purpose of instruction on each individual student,

learning becomes more enjoyable and engaging (Benjamin 57). Learning is also more engaging

and effective when the instructor is highly qualified (Friel 2). To provide the highest quality

instruction for students, schools should asses each teacher’s abilities and qualifications to

effectively instruct prior to hiring. Within schools, teachers should utilize the resource of each

other-by sharing lesson plans, discussing teaching methods and shadowing other effective

teachers, teachers learn how to teach more effectively. By acknowledging the potential for

improved academic success within public school systems, due to making changes to how schools
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are run by teachers and administration, America can maintain a higher education system and

produce more dynamic leaders for the future of this nation.

Students who experience the freedom of personal decision making in a school setting

receive an escalation of comprehension and enjoyment in school. National education consultant,

Amy Benjamin, emphasizes the importance that students are given the opportunity to make

meaningful choices in school, “Having a choice gives students a sense of self-determination that

translates into increased commitment” (57). It is human nature to practice independence. During

the crucial developmental stage of a child’s life, students crave exploration to learn for

themselves. Knowledge is stored for longer periods of time and with more accuracy as material

is studied with both repetition and variance; another way teachers can provide an enjoyable and

effective environment for their students is by incorporating various methods of teaching and

testing into a curriculum. There is no need for all teachers to follow the same outline for their

lesson plans, how they choose to weight graded assignments and tests or how they choose to

captivate their students (Benjamin 58-59). Educators are capable of assessing their specific

situation within their schools, and formatting a plan specifically to their student’s needs.

Unfortunately, many great teachers are prohibited from teaching this way. In public schooling,

the state board of education sets requirements for each district-school districts then create

standardized tests and curriculum to be taught-principals and administration decide how that

curriculum will be taught within the school, restricting teachers from teaching how they please.

Award winning educator, Brian Le Starge, remarked in personal interview that being an educator

is becoming increasingly difficult. Creativity in the classroom is restricted to a point of

discouragement by the administration. Le Starge plans to change careers because of the policies
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pushed on him by a school administration with little teaching experience. The last thing students

need is abandonment by their inspirational teachers; state education boards should reevaluate

their methods of restricting teacher freedom. For knowledge and learning to thrive in public

schools, each student needs the opportunity to make meaningful choices to engage enjoyment

and comprehension-these choices can only be provided by teachers who are given freedom in

their classrooms.

Passionate teachers have the ability to engage an audience and inspire a love for subject

into each student. A student who enjoys and succeeds in school is more likely to have the desire

for a higher education, resulting in a greater chance of pursuing a stable career in the future

(Nazaryan 36). There are multiple reasons adults choose to pursue a career in teaching. The three

main components to be considered are their altruistic, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations

(Löfström 38). Typically, teachers are primarily motivated altruistically; they aspire to become

great teachers in order to share their passion of the subject, and increase the well-being of their

student’s lives. On the other hand, few teachers find the extrinsic value of a teacher’s salary

appealing, turning off many adults capable of pursuing a career in education. This poses a

serious problem in America: there is a shortage of qualified public school teachers. Debates are

often made over teacher salary in the United States, many believe that raising teacher benefits,

such as salary, will attract more qualified educators-improving the education system. However,

in research published by Brian Friel, no positive correlation is found between teacher salary and

student success (3). Data was collected from each state in America regarding teacher salaries,

4th-grade test scores compared with national averages, and percentage of high qualified teachers.

Unexpectedly, the 4th-grade testing scores percentages were not influenced by the teacher’s
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salary-disproving the theory that increasing teacher salary will attract better teachers and increase

student learning. The study also shows an interesting correlation between the percentage of

qualified teachers and 4th-grade test scores. States with above average testing scores had an

average of at least 80 percent of their teachers considered highly qualified (Friel 9). Altering the

salary of American teachers will not solve the issue of teacher shortages, nor will it improve the

quality of their current teaching. To attract more passionate and engaging teachers, public school

systems should provide a greater opportunity for highly qualified teachers to inspire their

students-driven by the desire to impact the lives of school children.

Teachers are experts on the art of learning. They spend the waking moments of each day

discovering how to ingrain knowledge into the minds of their students. There are many

components that contribute to effective teaching. “Strong teachers insist that effective teaching is

neither mysterious nor magical. It is neither a function of dynamic personality nor dramatic

performance" (qtd. in Rippley 63). Many variables go into the art of teaching, an art seemingly

impossible to perfect; however, by utilizing the resource of each other to gain expertise in

teaching, teachers have potential to develop their abilities greater than they would be able to on

their own.

“Because teachers may give up on differentiated instruction if the logistics and

paperwork overwhelm them, principals need to value and promote collegiality.

Differentiated instruction thrives in a collegial community because teachers need

ideas, encouragement, tips, avenue for reflection, and a wealth of sources. But

collegiality, based on communication, is possible only when teachers have shared

planning time. This doesn't mean conversations in the copy room or having lunch
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together. Shared planning time means taking teachers away from their classrooms

every few weeks to have serious, focused, and businesslike discussions about

professional concerns. Ideally these sessions are conducted under the leadership

of a skilled consultant.” (Benjamin 58-59)

Initiating programs of collegiality into schools will decrease the amount of time teachers spend

perfecting their teaching methods, and increase the amount of time teachers have to focus on the

needs of their students. By utilizing teacher collaboration, students in each school will be given a

more equivalent education experience, a greater variety of learning technique will be used to

captivate the students-resulting in more knowledge gained within public schools.

The ultimate goal for public school education is for each student to graduate highschool

and have the opportunity and desire for a higher level of education. In the state of Utah, racial

diversity and graduation rates have an association; however, race is not a determining factor for

whether or not a student is capable of graduating high school. “According to a majority of

experts, family income and race continue to be key factors in whether students do well in school,

but the most important factor in student achievement that schools can control is teacher quality”

(Friel 2). The greatest variable the education system can improve in order to increase the number

of graduating students in America is the quality of its teachers.

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Figure 1: “Utah Graduation Rate by Student Group and School Year.” Chart. Data and Statistics.
Utah State Board of Education, December 1 2017. Web. 10 Dec. 2017.

In order to improve the education system in America, students must receive the highest

caliber education possible by being taught effectively by their teachers. By providing the

opportunity for personal decision making among students in the classroom setting, education

quality improves. Student comprehensiveness and engagement increase-providing the ideal

situation for mental growth. These practices of decision making and personal exploration in

public school systems are only possible when school administration provides each teacher with

the freedom necessary to teach this way. Passionate teachers who enjoy the teaching profession

have a greater potential to influence their students-they are motivated by their ability to inspire a

love of learning into each student. As schools seek to employ teachers with the desire to inspire

their students to gain love and respect for learning, student abilities will increase beyond their

previous capacities. The higher quality teachers schools employ, the greater education its

students will receive. Regardless of race, educational circumstances or personal background,

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each child in America has the potential and the right to receive a fulfilling public education. Each

citizen of America should not be merely pushed through a system of standardized testing but

should be given the opportunity to gain meaningful knowledge. Outstanding teachers are the key;

teachers do not have to be abnormally intelligent or charismatic to engage their students, all that

is required is a desire to teach quality curriculum, motivation to inspire the youth, and

collaboration from other qualified teachers in order to effectively educate students and lead them

to the path of graduation.

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Works Cited

Benjamin, Amy. "Valuing Differentiated Instruction." Education Digest, vol. 72, no. 1, Sept.

2006, p. 57. EBSCOhost. Web. 10 Dec. 2017.

Friel, Brian. "No Teacher Left behind." National Journal, vol. 36, no. 37, 11 Sept. 2004, p. 2712.

EBSCOhost. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.

Le Starge, Brian. Personal interview. 09 Dec. 2017.

Löfström, Erika, et al. "Supporting Emerging Teacher Identities: Can We Identify Teacher

Potential among Students?." European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 33, no. 2, May

2010, pp. 167-184. EBSCOhost. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.

Nazaryan, Alexander. "Goin' Old School." Newsweek Global, vol. 167, no. 6, 19 Aug. 2016,

p. 32. EBSCOhost. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.

Ripley, Amanda. "What Makes a Great Teacher?." Atlantic, vol. 305, no. 1, Jan/Feb2010, p. 58.

EBSCOhost. Web 9 Dec. 2017.

Stewart, Peggy. "The Progressive Teaching Initiative: A Cohesive Model for School

Transformation." Education Digest, vol. 78, no. 2, Oct. 2012, p. 36. EBSCOhost. Web.

12 Dec. 2017.

“Utah Graduation Rate by Student Group and School Year.” Chart. Data and Statistics.

Utah State Board of Education, 2017. Web. 10 Dec. 2017.