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The Quality of the Teaching Workforce

The Quality of the Teaching Workforce

The article published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) relates the quality of the teaching workforce in terms of the diversity of teachers, maintaining an adequate supply of good and qualified teachers, and developing the skills of those already in profession. The problem of the quality of the teaching workforce is attributed to the decline of the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, which in turn results in the decline of good quality teachers, or even the supply of teachers as a whole. There are also shortage of teachers by particular subject areas and school levels. Even in cases where there are sufficient amount of good quality teachers, there are still concerns about the assurance that these teachers could maintain the skill and knowledge to cope with modern education.

OECD (2004) reported that the decline of the attractiveness of teaching as a profession is indicated by the relative salaries and the social status received by those in the profession. The salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience in 14 out of 19 countries, for example, grow more slowly than the GDP between 1994 to 2001 (OECD, 2004). OECD (2004) also reported that

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relative salaries particularly influence the decision to become a teacher, the decision to remain in teaching or the decision to return to teaching after a career interruption. Other factors that determine the attractiveness of teaching include working conditions such as the class size, teaching load, facilities and instructional materials, and safety; the professionalism of teaching which is determined by certification standards, opportunities for collaboration and participation in decision-making, and opportunities for professional development; job flexibility; and job security.

The decline of the attractiveness results in the decline of the number of teachers. School systems often resolve into lowering the qualification requirements such that they could accept more applicants. Others increase the teaching loads assigned to teachers. While it may ensure that classes have available teacher, both systems “raise concerns about the quality of teaching and learning” (OECD, 2004, 2). OECD suggested ways to increase the effectiveness of teaching that would also increase its attractiveness. Work environment can be made to be stimulating. Proper school management and leadership can ensure that the teachers are valued and supported, assigning administrative and non-teaching tasks to other professionals or support staff would ensure that teachers could focus their expertise on meeting students needs, and having good facilities could increase the preparation, planning and consultation of teachers’ needs. Teachers also need tools to effectively make the best out of students’ learning experience. They also need opportunities to develop their skills to ensure that quality standards continue to improve. School systems could also provide opportunities for teachers to take on new roles such as being mentor/coach for beginning teachers, as coordinator of professional development activities, as subject coordinator, and as student counselor. Recognizing and rewarding the teachers’ work from an assessment process would also increase the effectiveness of teaching.

While the suggestions made by OECD are sound, their bases why their suggestions would work to increase the effectiveness of teaching were not specified. It is apparent that their suggestions are based only on induction and further study is required to prove the cost-effectiveness of their suggestions. The OECD also presented little data to prove their claims of the decreasing quality of teaching aside from reported concerns from OECD countries and data collected regarding the mean percentage of upper secondary students where principals reported hiring fully qualified teachers as difficult, the percentage of teachers aged 50 and above on lower secondary education, and the teachers’ relative salaries. Furthermore, the countries included in the study only included the 19 member-countries of OECD; and as such, are not sufficient to make a general, worldwide claim.

Reference

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]. (2004). The quality of the teaching workforce. Retrieved DATE from, URL

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