Monday, September 7, 2009

Do Teaching Assistants Make a Difference?

According to Judy Friedberg, of the Guardian,
"Teaching assistants do not boost pupils' progress, though they do help to reduce teachers' stress levels and improve classroom discipline, research shows."
I find it hard to believe that pupils' progress doesn't improve with TA support. This contradicts so much of what we think in our teaching and planning.
"Primary and secondary pupils supported by teaching assistants (TAs) actually make less progress than those of similar ability, class and gender who do not get such assistance, a study by the Institute of Education has found. But the students are less distracted and disruptive, leaving teachers free to work with the rest of the class."

What do you think? Would you agree with this study?

PS) I just found this discussion online in regards to this very issue.

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  1. Ok maybe I am totally off track here, but it seems to me that more one on one support for those students who need it can only be a good thing, because realistically, we as teachers simply do not have the time to give each child the one on one attention they deserve. Especially when the TAs are well qualified, and coordinate with the classroom teacher to either work in the classroom, or on material being covered in class (so that those students with the TA are not missing out on material covered in class).

    Am I totally missing something crucial here? I'll go read up on the study in more depth as well, as I'd like to know exactly what is being assessed to arrive at that conclusion.

  2. Wow, what? That makes absolutely no sense to me.

  3. Hi Anon & Bryn,

    Yes - it is strange indeed! I think the discussions on the TES (which I linked to at the bottom of the post) shed quite a bit of light on the subject as well.

    I think the issue is one of education and training for the TA's there. Often times, the TA's I worked with had very little formal education themselves, so the teacher is teaching the TA as well. In primary schools the TA's seem to be the local Mom's of the community, which is great, but...well...from our point of view in Canada, it's a bit odd.

    The teachers on the TES say much more than I can here, so take a look - it can get quite heated in there!

    And for the record, I do believe TA's are an essential part of teaching children and they do make a difference, if not with the actual grades, then with the sanity of the teacher and the self-esteem of the students.

    Thanks for your comments!


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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