“The Talent Gap”

A new report from McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools, examines the dimensions and startling economic impact of the achievement gap. According to the report’s authors, the cost of the dramatic underutilization of our society’s potential imposes the equivalence of a permanent national recession on the United States. The report examines the dimensions of four gaps in education: (1) the international gap, (2) the racial gap, (3) the income gap, and (4) the system-based gap.

At a report briefing held yesterday in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan identified another gap in education: the talent gap. He asserted that our best talent is actually incented to not work in the toughest communities, and if we are to close the four achievement gaps articulated in the McKinsey report, we must ardently address the differential between talent in the neediest and wealthiest districts. Sir Michael Barber, Partner at McKinsey & Company and SMHC Vice Chair, also urged talent reform as a requisite for change.

There’s hope in the new models emerging in the education reform discussion.  But unless we scale best practices and align the different elements of talent reform – recruitment, development, retention, and compensation –we will be left with a disconnected system. So we ask: How do we use what we know from existing research and build on that to create change that produces better teachers and school leadership? Comment below.

One Response to ““The Talent Gap””

  1. No one who works in a school is surprised by the “talent gap” concept. We know who is there for the students and who is there for the check (oversimplification). The beginning step would be to utilize one of the validated teacher/administrator selection instruments such as those by Haberman or Gallup. The problem remains, however, that if only those teachers who performed well on those instruments were hired, we would still be woefully short! The quality in the available pool of teachers is extremely small. The achievement gap can only be closed by dedicated teachers who are willing to go above and beyond–including longer hours–both to support the students’ learning and their own professional development. Widen the pool by increasing the compensation! We can hold teachers to a higher standard if we adequately compensate. You’ll then see our pool of qualified applicants grow exponentially. We would also begin to restore a societal attitude of respect for the teaching profession.