What Can This Tiny Island Show Texas About Finding Great Teachers? A Lot, Actually

SINGAPORE — This Asian island roughly the size of Austin has dominated international rankings in education, with students regularly outperforming their peers in math, science and literacy.Singapore officials say the key to that success was simple: Hire only the best teachers.“Teaching is akin to nation building. It’s about survival,” said Ee Ling Low, a professor to aspiring teachers at the country’s National Institute of Education.Singapore’s success in becoming one of the most economically prosperous countries in Asia is largely credited to intentional policy-making decisions. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the country’s education system.As Texas faces inconsistent academic achievement and looming teacher shortages in high-need areas, a delegation of superintendents, college leaders, business representatives and philanthropic organizations recently traveled to Singapore to see what the Lone Star State could learn from that system.The main lesson for the Texas delegation was how deliberate the country is in making teaching a competitive career with a sharp focus on recruitment, training and development.“Everything they do is intentional,” said Ivan Duran, deputy superintendent of Dallas ISD. “They leave nothing to chance.”The trip was organized and funded by the grocery magnate Charles E. Butt, who has various philanthropic efforts aimed at improving public schools, and Educate Texas, a public-private partnership. The Dallas Morning News paid its own way for the trip.The H-E-B chief executive officer had traveled to Singapore recently and was impressed by the emphasis on education. The island routinely ranks among the best education systems in the world. Just last week Singapore outperformed all other countries in the global assessment known as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.George Tang, a managing director for Educate Texas who was part of the Texas delegation, brought back a renewed sense of urgency to ensure the state’s students get high-quality teachers, especially as the legislative session is about to start in January.“It was inspiring to see what was possible,” Tang said. “They see teaching as a very prestigious profession. If they are on one end of the continuum on that, our society is at the other end of the spectrum.”  Continue reading...

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