OUR OPINION: Good classroom teaching gives students the edge

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo on Monday awarded $11,500 from private-sector donors and endowments to 13 people named “Teachers of Distinction” in the public school system for 2011, with an independent panel evaluating nominations from across the community.
The tangible affirmation of classroom leadership, which included 10 teachers and three assistant teachers, started with 36 nominees. The award announcements were made at a joint meeting of the Tupelo Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in collaboration with CREATE Foundation, which is the general trustee for the endowments and chief sponsor of the recognition.
The $1,000 and $500 stipends don’t match winning he lottery, but they make a strong statement about the community’s belief in the importance of quality teaching and the value of retaining and encouraging the best teachers in the system.
Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, an authoritative and widely respected education advocacy and policy organization, has said that “the impact of teachers on children is clearest in the research of statisticians and economists who are studying the relationship between individual teachers and the growth students achieve in their classrooms during the school year.”
She said, “For many years, most Americans believed that what children learned was largely determined by their family background. They believed that, no matter what schools did, children who came from low-income families with low levels of parental education wouldn’t learn very much, while those who came from more affluent and better educated families would excel.
“Research undoubtedly fed this view. … More recent research has, however, turned these understandings upside down. It turns out that some things that schools do matter hugely in whether students learn, or whether they don’t. And the thing that matters most is good teaching.”
She also said in congressional testimony, “In summarizing available research, Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University, estimated ‘the difference in annual achievement growth between having a good and having a bad teacher can be more than one grade level equivalent in test performance.’”
Haycock also said the cumulative impact of teacher quality is biggest for initially low-achieving students. A recent study in Tennessee suggested that students who fail the state’s 4th grade examination are six times more likely to pass the graduation examination if they have a sequence of highly effective teachers …”
Sharon Rogers, Robin Maynard, Carmon Dye, Joyce Juarez, Christy Bonds, Lealue Triplett, Christi Wall, Samantha Cox and Kim Noe won teacher awards; Cheryl Barnes, Lorie Murphy and Beth Miller were cited as assistant teachers.
All of them make a positive difference.