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College of Education > News and Publications > News: 2009 > LeTendre, Akiba Co-Author Book on Teacher Quality

LeTendre, Akiba Co-Author Book on Teacher Quality

News release about Gerry LeTendre's new book

(July 2009)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Gerald LeTendre, professor of educational theory and policy at Penn State, has co-authored a new book with Motoko Akiba '01 Ph.D., faculty member at the University of Missouri–Columbia. The book, Improving Teacher Quality: The U.S. Teaching Force in Global Context (Teachers College Press, 2009), is a groundbreaking work that examines teacher quality, work norms, and professional learning opportunities, using data from 15 countries.

The authors compare and contrast the United States with two countries—Japan and Australia—that have implemented very different approaches to improving teacher quality. Drawing on both large international data sets and ethnographic and small-scale studies, the book addresses critical questions:

•   How do teacher quality and teacher recruitment and hiring policies in the United States differ from those in other countries?
•   How do the working conditions of U.S. teachers differ from those of teachers in other countries?
•   How do U.S. teachers’ opportunities for professional learning differ from those of teachers in other countries?
•   Do the characteristics of the national teaching force influence student achievement?
•   What U.S. policies offer promise for improving teacher quality?

The authors find that, compared to other nations:
•   Poor children in the U.S. are more likely to be taught by teachers who are teaching outside their subject area.
•   Poor children are more likely to have uncertified teachers than children from wealthy families.
•   The U.S. has no national system for recruiting talented individuals into the teaching profession.
•   Support for professional development is fragmented; many new teachers fail to receive mentoring or induction training during their first years of service.

LeTendre is chair of Penn State’s Educational Policy Studies Department, and editor of The American Journal of Education. Akiba, an alumna of Penn State's Educational Theory & Policy program, is a 2008 recipient of the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award.