Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents 12 TEACHER JUNE/JU LY 2010
It used to be thought that schools and teach-
ers made little difference to student achieve-
ment. Back in the 1960s, the prevailing view
was that student achievement was largely
determined by socioeconomic status (SES),
family circumstances and innate ability.
Research has powerfully refuted that view,
and we now know of course that teach-
ers, teaching and schools do make a sig-
nificant difference to student achievement.
The result has been a major international
emphasis on improving the quality of teach-
ers and teaching, especially since the 1980s.
Of course, research does show that SES
and family background exert strong influ-
ences on student achievement, but it also
shows that these are not life sentences. SES
is about the opportunity and support, role
models and encouragement available to
a student. It's not about innate ability or
social-biological determinism. The facts are
that while there is a relationshipbetween SES
and student achievement, poor achievement
is spread across the SES spectrum. We have
many high achievers in low-SES schools.
Of the school-based factors influencing
a student's learning, the most important is
the classroom teacher, along with the stu-
dent's prior achievement. We now know
how teacher expertise develops and we
know what good teaching looks like, but we
also know that teacher quality varies within
schools and across the nation.
A quality teacher in every classroom
A quality teacher in every classroom is the
ultimate aim, but how to achieve this is the
big question and challenge.
Recently, we've seen some significant
developments focusing on improving the
quality of teaching and lifting student
achievement, but in pursuing these devel-
opments, it's important that we don't widen
the existing gaps between our highest and
These recent and current developments
the introduction of the National Assess-
ment Program -- Literacy and Numeracy
(NAPLAN) for students in Years 3, 5,
the development of a national curriculum
after many years, even decades, of false
new financial relationships between
the Com monwealth, state and territory
govern ments through various partner-
STEVE DINHAM LOOKS AT THE MOST IMPORTANT SCHOOL-BASED
FACTOR INFLUENCING A STUDENT'S LEARNING: HIGH-QUALITY
TEACHERS LIKE YOU.
make a difference
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