Thursday, June 30, 2011

WSJ: American teachers most productive, work most hours

The only thing surprising about this news is that it was published by the Wall Street Journal, no friend of America's education professionals.

In its "Number of the Week" blog feature, the Journal reported that American teachers spend an average -- an average, mind you -- of 1,097 hours per year on instruction, though the average school year is 36 weeks.

American teachers are the most productive among major developed countries, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data from 2008 — the most recent available.

Among 27 member nations tracked by the OECD, U.S. primary-school educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching despite only spending 36 weeks a year in the classroom — among the lowest among the countries tracked. That was more than 100 hours more than New Zealand, in second place at 985 hours, despite students in that country going to school for 39 weeks. The OECD average is 786 hours.

And that’s just the time teachers spend on instruction. Including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside the classroom, American primary-school educators spend 1,913 working in a year. According to data from the comparable year in a Labor Department survey, an average full-time employee works 1,932 hours a year spread out over 48 weeks (excluding two weeks vacation and federal holidays).

Any teacher who carries bagsful of math papers to grade in the bleachers at middle-school basketball games will recognize herself here.

And it puts the lie to the charge that teachers enjoy short hours, short months and long breaks, doesn't it?

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