Mckinsey report notes that the best systems recruit the best graduates but mixed evidence in US


In the United States just  23 percent of entering teachers come from the top third of their graduating class. What would it take to do better- asks  a new McKinsey report ‘Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching, A 2007 McKinsey  Report on the Best Education Systems in the world found that  ‘the quality of any education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers’ and  of all the controllable factors in an education system by far the most important is the  effectiveness of the   classroom  teacher . So the best systems are systematic about  attracting and  recruiting the best, training them well and retaining them,  making sure  that good teachers teach  pupils from all socio-economic backgrounds.

So helping teachers to lift student achievement more effectively has become a major theme in US education. Most efforts that are now in their early stages or being planned focus either on building the skills of teachers already in the classroom (an approach advocated here by Professor Dylan Wiliam)  or on retaining the best and dismissing the least effective performers. The question of who should actually teach and how the nation’s schools might attract more young people from the top tier of college graduates, as part of a systematic effort to improve teaching in the United States, has received comparatively little attention.

McKinsey’s experience with school systems in more than 50 countries suggests that this is an important gap in the US debate. In  the report, Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching, McKinsey review the experiences of the world’s top-performing systems, in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea. These countries recruit 100 percent of their teacher corps from the top third of the academic cohort. Along with strong training and good working conditions, this extraordinary selectivity is part of an integrated system that promotes the prestige of teaching—and has achieved extraordinary results. In the United States, by contrast, only 23 percent of new teachers come from the top third, and just 14 percent of new teachers who come from the top third work in high-poverty schools, where attracting and retaining talented people is particularly difficult. The report asks what it would take to emulate nations that systematically recruit top students to teaching if the United States decided that it was worthwhile to do so.

US research has mixed findings about the relationship between the  Academic performance of  teachers  and the quality of their degrees and their subsequent   classroom performance. McKinsey suggests that bolder efforts and experimentation  should be  undertaken  to see, in different contexts, whether  teachers in the top third, academically, teach better and that this should be part of a comprehensive human capital strategy for the US education system. Basically who should be teaching, should it be graduates from the top third performance bracket,  given that most successful systems  select the best for their  rigorous teacher  training programmes.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary suggested in the past that a minimum level of a 2:2 Degree should be required for entry into the teaching  profession in the UK  which prompted a considerable debate in the media at the time , not all of it supportive




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