International teacher study offers lessons for U.S. schools

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Findings from the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of middle school teachers present a stark contrast between how teachers in the United States are treated compared with the working conditions of their counterparts in top-performing countries. The report comes from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"TALIS is an opportunity for teachers to weigh in on what's needed to help students succeed across the world." AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "What is striking is that teachers in the top-performing countries are given the support they need, are accorded the respect they deserve, and are valued by their societies for the work they do. On the other hand, U.S. teachers have to fight for resources, support and respect, and now, in light of the Vergara v. California case, some people will delight in pitting teachers against their students while being silent on the strategies used by the successful OECD countries.

"This stark contrast should be the flashing red light that gets policymakers in this country to stop promoting hypertesting and sanctions, and instead emulate what works. This, and so many other international surveys, presents a clear road map for what teachers and their students need—evidence-based interventions for disadvantaged students, high-quality teacher preparation, time to collaborate, sufficient resources and respect for the profession. TALIS data show that U.S. teachers have the highest number of disadvantaged students of any of the 34 countries surveyed, making it crucial to provide them with additional academic, social and healthcare services to thrive.

"We can reclaim the promise of public education if we take seriously these findings so that we can help prepare all our kids for a bright future."

Read more highlights from the report in this AFT fact sheet.

[AFT press release]