Teachers Matter: Connecting Work, Lives and Effectiveness

By Christopher Day; Pam Sammons et al. | Go to book overview

eight
Teacher effectiveness,
pupil attainment

Introduction

This chapter focuses on investigating teachers' effectiveness, in terms of their impact on pupils' academic attainment and progress. The (standards agenda) has received increasing attention in many countries during the past two decades, reflecting concerns about economic competitiveness, and controversy about the possible influence of more progressive approaches to teaching. This stimulated the introduction of a number of international surveys, such as TIMSS, PISA and PIRLS, to explore variations within and between different countries in the level of attainments achieved by pupils in basic skills or core areas of the curriculum (Sammons et al. 2004).

In England, as Chapter 1 has shown, major educational changes from 1988 onwards involved an emphasis on 'raising standards' through the introduction of a National Curriculum, and an associated programme of national assessments at different Key Stages of pupils' school careers (ages 7, 11 and 14). Regular inspection of schools, by Ofsted, was instituted to ensure the delivery of the National Curriculum, and hold schools accountable for the standards achieved by their pupils, with the intention of promoting 'improvement through inspection' (Matthews and Sammons 2004). The national literacy and numeracy strategies had a major influence on teachers' practice in the primary sector after 1998, and the Key Stage 3 strategy influenced practice for teachers of the lower secondary age group from 2001. All these developments sought to increase pupil attainments in the core subjects of English, mathematics and, to a lesser extent, in science. We have discussed teachers' experiences of these major influences on their classroom practice, and in the final chapter we will return to a discussion of the implications of

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