Good teachers matter. This may seem obvious to anyone who has a child in school or, for that matter, to anyone who has been a child in school. For a long time, though, researchers couldn't actually prove that teaching talent was important. But new research finally shows that teacher quality is a close cousin to student achievement: A great teacher can cram one-and-a-half grades' worth of learning into a single year, while laggards are lucky to accomplish half that much. Parents and kids, it seems, have been right all along to care whether they were assigned to Mrs. Smith or Mr. Brown.
Yet, while we know now that better teachers are critical, flaws in the way that administrators select and retain them mean that schools don't always hire the best.
Many ingredients for good teaching are difficult to ascertain in advance—charisma and diligence come to mind—but research shows a teacher's own ability on standardized tests reliably predicts good performance in the classroom. You would think, then, that top-scoring teachers would be swimming in job offers, right? Not so, says Vanderbilt University professor Dale Ballou. High-scoring teaching applicants "do not fare better than others in the job market," he writes. "Indeed, remarkably they do somewhat worse."
Even more surprising, given the national shortage of highly skilled math and science teachers, school administrators are more keen to hire education majors than applicants who have math or science degrees. No one knows for sure why those who hire teachers routinely overlook top talent. Perhaps they wrongly think that the qualifications they shun make little difference for students. Also, administrators are probably naturally drawn to teachers who remind them of themselves.
But failing to recognize the qualities that make teachers truly effective (and to construct incentives to attract and retain more of these top performers) has serious consequences. For example, because schools don't always hire the best applicants, across-the-board salary increases cannot improve teacher quality much, and may even worsen it. That's because higher salaries draw more weak as well as strong applicants into teaching—applicants the current hiring system can't adequately screen. Unless administrators have incentives to hire the best teachers available, it's pointless to give them a larger group to choose from.
If public school hiring processes are bad, their compensation policies are worse. Most districts pay solely based on years of experience and the presence of a master's degree, a formula that makes the Federal General Schedule—which governs pay for U.S. bureaucrats—look flexible. Study after study has shown that teachers with master's degrees are no better than those without. Job experience does matter, but only for the first few years, according to research by Hoover Institution's Eric A. Hanushek. A teacher with 15 years of experience is no more effective, on average, than a teacher with five years of experience, but which one do you think is paid more?
This toxic combination of rigid pay and steep rewards for seniority causes average quality to decline rather than increase as teacher groups get older. Top performers often leave the field early for industries that reward their excellence. Mediocre teachers, on the other hand, are soon overcompensated by seniority pay. And because they are paid more than their skills command elsewhere, these less-capable pedagogues settle in to provide many years of ineffectual instruction.
So how can we separate the wheat from the chaff in the teaching profession? To make American schools competitive, we must rethink seniority pay, the value of master's degrees, and the notion that a teacher can teach everything equally well—especially math and science—without appropriate preparation in the subject.
Our current education system is unlikely to accomplish this dramatic rethinking. Imagine, for a moment, that American cars had been free in recent decades, while Toyotas and Hondas sold at full price. We'd probably be driving Falcons and Corvairs today. Free public education suffers from a lack of competition in just this way. So while industries from aerospace to drugs have transformed themselves in order to compete, public schooling has stagnated.
School choice could spark the kind of reformation this industry needs by motivating administrators to hire the best and adopt new strategies to keep top teachers in the classroom. The lesson that good teachers matter should be taught, not as a theory, but as a practice.
6. The beginning sentence "Good teachers matter." can mainly be explained as which of the following?
(A) Good teachers help students establish confidence.
(B) Good teachers determine the personality of students.
(C) Good teachers promote student achievement.
(D) Good teachers treat students as their own children.
7. According to the author, seniority pay favors ________.
(A) good teachers' with master's degrees
(B) young and effective teachers
(C) experienced and effective teachers
(D) mediocre teachers of average quality
8. The expression "separate the wheat from the chaff in the teaching profession" is closest in meaning to ________.
(A) distinguish better teachers from less capable ones
(B) differentiate young teachers from old ones
(C) tell the essential qualities of good teaching
(D) reevaluate the role of senior teachers
9. When the author uses the automobile industry as an example, she argues that ________.
(A) Japan's auto industry is exceeding America's auto industry
(B) the public schooling has stagnated because of competition
(C) the current American education system is better than the Japanese one
(D) competition must be introduced into the public education system
10. Which of the following CANNOT be concluded from the passage?
(A) Most average teachers want to leave school because of high pressure.
(B) Excellent teachers often leave schools for better jobs.
(C) The average quality of the teachers in America is declining.
(D) Teachers' quality is closely related to a number of factors.
The British author Salman Rushdie is selling his personal archive to a wealthy American university. The archive, which includes personal diaries written during the decade that he spent living in hiding from Islamic extremists, is being bought by the Emory University in Atlanta for an undisclosed sum. The move has sparked concern that Britain's literary heritage is being lost to foreign buyers. The archive also includes two unpublished novels.
Rushdie, 59, said last week that his priority had been to "find a good home" for his papers, but admitted that money had also been a factor. "I don't see why I should give them away," he said. "It seemed to me quite reasonable that one should be paid." The sum involved is likely to match or exceed similar deals. In 2003 Emory bought the archive of Ted Hughes, the late poet laureate, for a reported $600,000. Julian Barnes, the author of Flaubert's Parrot, is said to have sold his papers to the University of Texas at Austin for $200,000.
Rushdie was born in Bombay (Mumbai) but educated in Britain. His book Midnight's Children was voted the best Booker prize winner in 25 years and he is regarded as a leading British literary novelist. The sale of his papers will annoy the British Library, which is about to hold a conference to discuss how to stop famous writers' archives being sold abroad.
Yesterday Clive Field, the director .of scholarship and collections at the library, said: "I am pleased that Rushdie's papers will be preserved in a publicly accessible institution, but disappointed that we didn't have an opportunity to discuss the acquisition of the archive with him." Rushdie' said the British Library "never asked me about the archive".
At the tail end of the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that natural history—which he saw as a war against fear and superstition—ought to be narrated "in such a way that everyone who hears it is irresistibly inspired to strive after spiritual and bodily health and vigour," and he grumbled that artists had yet to discover the right language to do this.
"Nonetheless," Nietzsche admitted, "the English have taken admirable steps in the direction of that ideal ... the reason is that they [natural history books] are written by their most distinguished scholars—whole, complete and fulfilling natures."
The English language tradition of nature writing and narrating natural history is gloriously rich, and although it may not make any bold claims to improving health and wellbeing, it does a good job—for readers and the subjects of the writing. Where the insights of field naturalists meet the legacy of poets such as Clare, Wordsworth, Hughes and Heaney, there emerges a language as vivid as any cultural achievement.
That this language is still alive and kicking and read every day in a newspaper is astounding. So to hold a century's worth of country diaries is, for an interloper like me, both an inspiring and humbling experience. But is this the best way of representing nature, or is it a cultural default? Will the next century of writers want to shake loose from this tradition? What happens next?
Over the years, nature writers and country diarists have developed an increasingly sophisticated ecological literacy of the world around them through the naming of things and an understanding of the relationships between them. They find ways of linking simple observations to bigger issues by remaining in the present, the particular. For writers of my generation, a nostalgia for lost wildlife and habitats and the business of bearing witness to a war of attrition in the countryside colours what we're about. The anxieties of future generations may not be the same.
Articulating the "wild" as a qualitative character of nature and context for the more quantitative notion of biodiversity will, I believe, become a more dynamic cultural project. The re-wilding of lands and seas, coupled with a re-wilding of experience and language, offers fertile ground for writers. A response to the anxieties springing from climate change, and a general fear of nature answering our continued environmental injustices with violence, will need a reassessment of our feelings for the nature we like—cultural landscapes, continuity, native species—as well as the nature we don't like—rising seas, droughts, "invasive" species.
Whether future writers take their sensibilities for a walk and, like a pack of wayward dogs unleashed, let them loose in hills and woods to sniff out some fugitive truth hiding in the undergrowth, or choose to honestly recount the this-is-where-I-am, this-is-what-I-see approach, they will be hitched to the values implicit in the language they use. They should challenge these.
Perhaps they will see our natural history as a contributor to the commodification of nature and the obsessive managerialism of our times. Perhaps they will see our romanticism as a blanket thrown over the traumatised victim of the countryside. But maybe they will follow threads we found in the writings of others and find their own way to wonder.
16. The major theme of the passage is about ______.
(A) the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
(B) the development of the discipline of natural history
(C) the English language tradition of nature writing
(D) the style of nature writing and country diaries
17. In writing the essay, the author seems to be directly talking to the "future generations" and "future writers" probably because ______.
(A) they will carry forward the tradition of nature writing
(B) they will confront a changing environment and have their own perspective of natural history
(C) they will study the causes of climate change and promote the notion and significance of biodiversity
(D) they will value more the sophisticated ecological literacy of the nature writers and country diarists
18. The author says that our feelings for the nature we like (as well as the nature we don't like) will need a "reassessment" probably because ______.
(A) we should not like the cultural landscapes, continuity and native species
(B) we should not hate the rising seas, droughts, and "invasive" species
(C) our feelings are often irrational and subjective
(D) our feelings are always focusing on ourselves
19. It can be concluded that the tone of the passage is basically ______.
(A) assertive and radical
(B) explicit and straightforward
(C) neutral and impartial
(D) implicit and explorative
20. Which of the following statements is NOT in agreement with the author's view?
(A) The English tradition of nature writing should be reflected and reconsidered.
(B) The values implicit in the language of natural history should be challenged.
(C) The re-wilding of human experience and language will greatly benefit us.
(D) The re-wilding of lands and seas will bring us more disasters.
6. C7. D8. A9. D10. A
11. A12. D13. B14. B15. C16 .B
17. B18. D19. D 20. D