"If the U.S. is to close its achievement gap with the world's best education systems..."

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The U.S. needs more and better of these. (Photo: ajschwegler/Creative Commons)

“If the U.S. is to close its achievement gap with the world’s best education systems—and ease its own socio-economic disparities—a top-third strategy for the teaching profession must be part of the debate.”

That’s the conclusion reached by a new McKinsey report entitled Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching.

The report finds that in countries like Singapore, Finland, and South Korea, which have the best education systems in the world, teaching is considered a lucrative and prestigious profession reserved exclusively for top tier college graduates.

By contrast, in the United States, only 23 percent of new teachers come from the top third of their classes. In high poverty schools, that number drops to 14 percent.

The authors of the report note that although improving teacher effectiveness is a major reform theme in education politics, efforts usually focus on the performance of teachers already in the classroom.

Too little attention is paid to recruiting top talent into the profession.

It’s an oversight, say the authors, that could prevent the American education system from achieving and sustaining world-class status.


Photo: ajschwegler/Creative Commons via flickr.

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