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by Charlotte Danielson
Table of Contents
The capstone of any school improvement effort is the quality of teaching, which represents the single most important aspect of any school's program for ensuring student success. Various research studies, including those conducted by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, have concluded that external factors typically account for roughly half of the learning differences between groups of students, while internal factors account for the other half. A school's curriculum and grading and attendance policies should all be aligned with school goals, of course, but no improvement effort is complete without a serious investigation of the quality of teaching.
It is unfortunate that educators in the United States devote so much time and energy to articulating the curriculum and so little to perfecting their instructional techniques. Committees spend eons contemplating what books to include in the 9th grade English curriculum, for example, or whether subtraction with regrouping should be taught in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade, but have relatively few discussions about what instructional strategies might best engage students with the novel selected for 9th grade English or help students to really understand subtraction with regrouping. Other nations apportion their resources somewhat differently: the Japanese, for instance, embrace the concept of “lesson study,” in which teachers perfect a single lesson by observing and providing feedback to their colleagues as a form of mutual professional development to enhance student learning.
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