Thursday, March 10, 2011

Education for thought

I stumbled across a working paper talking about incentives in Education through the freakonomics blog. The article basically states that incentives for teachers don't improve student performance.  It was an outlier among other studies in other countries.

The article, while a difficult read, referenced some data from the digest of education statistics which stated that student to teacher ratios were DECREASING from 17.3 in 1989 to 15.5 in 2007. It also stated that average class size was around 23 in secondary schools and 20 in elementary schools.

I find this hard to swallow, but data is data. There are obviously some things taken into account which I have no idea about. All I know is anecdotal evidence suggests that in SOME schools class sizes are increasing.

I feel out of my league here with all these stats. I am stubborn so I haven't changed my mind on what I think is wrong. But perhaps other components of education have been harmed such as student motivation and enthusiasm, poor student-teacher interactions, or overworked teachers (incentives can't solve time problems). Lets just remind ourselves that learning is up to students. Teaching is up to teachers. I wonder what teachers would say is going awry in student achievement?