The latest results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) don’t paint a pretty picture for American education, at least as it compares to the progress made by most other countries. Americans aren’t necessarily performing worse, it’s that other countries improved at a faster rate than U.S students. Andreas Schleicher, who manages PISA, indicated that the highest performing PISA schools all have “ownership” cultures — a high degree of professional autonomy for teachers in the classrooms, where teachers get to participate in shaping standards and curriculum and have ample time for continuous professional development. So teaching is not treated as an industry where teachers just spew out and implement the ideas of others, but rather is “a profession where teachers have ownership of their practice and standards, and hold each other accountable.”
That seems like the opposite of what we’re seeing here, where the focus has long been on the creation of standards for which so many teachers are expected to adhere, ultimately giving them less autonomy and forcing them to gear everything towards meeting the standards. We think Schleicher’s on to something….