83°
Mostly sunny
TUE
 89°
 54°
WED
 84°
 56°
THU
 86°
 56°
FRI
 85°
 57°
SAT
 90°
 57°

Last hours to vote for the Best of Sonoma County finalists! Don't miss out!

Letter of the Day: Shanghai's secret

  • Middle school students in Shanghai. Students in Shanghai outperformed students from 65 other countries on an international standardized test that measured math, science and reading competency. (RYAN PYLE / New York Times, 2010)

Shanghai's secret

EDITOR: After reading Thomas Friedman's column about the high-quality, high-outcome schools of Shanghai (“Shanghai's secret makes for better schools,” Wednesday), I have the answer to the secret. He says there is none, but there is one: money. He mentions that the school he visited had 754 students and 59 teachers. Do the math. That is a ratio of just over 12 students to each teacher.

I know that doesn't mean each class has only 12 students, but that gives the school the ability to let teachers work without students — lesson planning, observing master teachers, working to improve teaching.

I once went to a professional development session on an idea called Lesson Study. It's basically what the Shanghai teachers do. You observed master teachers, other teachers came to your classroom to offer ideas, your teaching was videotaped so you could see what you were doing, and selected students were interviewed to see what teaching method was most effective. Many teachers wanted to try it. But there was no money to support more common planning or lesson planning.

Wouldn't it be better to take the large sums of money the state spends on standardized testing and support high-outcome practices instead? And support means a constant professional development program, not just one or two sessions.

SUSAN FUTCH

Sebastopol

© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View