Enticing our top college graduates to teach in America’s classrooms is a serious challenge, bordering on an epidemic in some of our poorer communities and neighborhoods. According to the 2010 McKinsey report “Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in US Teaching,” just under one in four of our entering teachers come from the top third of their college class. For high-poverty schools even fewer entering teachers (a mere 14 percent) are top third talent.
In the Buckeye State, the Ohio Board of Regents’ data corroborate McKinsey’s finding that neither the best nor brightest are entering Ohio’s classrooms as teachers. According to the Regents, the average composite ACT of an incoming teacher-prep candidate was 22.75, below the average ACT score of the overall incoming freshman class for relatively selective universities. The middle 50 percent of incoming freshman to the Ohio State University, for example, had composite ACT scores between 26 and 30.
What deters the best and brightest from entering (and staying) in our classrooms is, of course, a complicated issue with many hypotheses: low pay, stressful working conditions, rigid certification requirements, lack of prestige, and archaic remuneration systems that fail to reward high-performing teachers and backloads benefits are all plausible explanations.
Since 1989 Teach For America (TFA) has worked to improve this bleak human capital situation, and has brought the nation’s top college graduates into a small, but increasing slice of America’s highest need classrooms. In 2012-13, more...