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Roundup: Other countries' efforts to develop and support teachers

A recent study identified teaching-related areas in which nations with high student achievement tend to have an advantage over the US.

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A recent study of the professional development of teachers identified four key areas in which nations with high student achievement tend to have an advantage over the United States:

Support for new teachers

•Many countries mandate mentoring or other support for beginning teachers. In New Zealand, new teachers spend 20 percent of their time being coached. In Norway, each new teacher is paired with a teacher trained as a mentor. In Switzerland, novices meet with practice groups from other schools for peer evaluation.

• The US has made progress in this area. In the early 1990s, about half of new teachers participated in support programs. A decade later, that had grown to two-thirds, and 7 out of 10 had a mentor.

Teaching versus planning time

•In most European and Asian countries, about half of a teacher's workweek, 15 to 20 hours, is spent outside the classroom – preparing lessons, meeting with students and parents, and working with colleagues. In South Korea, teachers spend up to 65 percent of their working time outside the classroom. In Japan, teachers study one another's best lessons in groups and analyze the strengths and weaknesses.

•American teachers are typically given three to five hours a week for planning.

Participation in decisions

•In countries such as Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland, national curriculum is a broad framework, and school leaders and teachers work together on the details of instruction. Teachers in many nations regularly help decide on budgets and design major tests. In Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore, teams of teachers research improvements for the curriculum and solutions to classroom problems.

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