Doug Noon just posted a wonderful article, Effective Teaching, in which he writes about what makes a teacher a great teacher. Very much worth a few minutes to read. Unfortunately, what I see happening is the question of what makes a great or effective teacher is totally left out of the equation when schools decide how to improve.
The first thing districts look at will be test scores, comparing this district with that one. Then will come different approaches to instruction (whole language vs, literacy based, etc). Then will be evaluations of PROGRAMS or CURRICULA that promise to meet the needs identified by the schools to improve TEST SCORES.
Then folks come up with a little equation for how to get the job done. It is based on the idea that all you need is the perfect curriculum, taught in exactly this or that particular way - and you'll have incredible schools!!
Is there anywhere in this equation a piece about the fact that the secret to effective schools is - effective and expert teachers? Once school districts start their planning around the ideas Doug is talking about, education in the 21st century may have a chance. A little more cultivation of the motivated, expert, and committed teacher will grow a lot healthier schools.