A discussion about achievement gaps in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools is in full swing at the Charlotte Observer website.

Most CMSers appear to agree that teacher quality is key. I concur. But there is wide disagreement on what makes a teacher great. That is a good thing. Researchers have not figured that out either, but it is a good question to ask.

Anyway, Superintendent Peter Gorman has a theory.

Superintendent Peter Gorman says research shows teacher experience and advanced degrees have little effect on student achievement, but CMS students with board-certified teachers outperform peers with teachers who don’t hold that credential.

I agree with the first part, but Gorman knows (or should know) that the National Board Certification process usually attracts higher performing teachers. The credentialing process itself usually has little to do with performance outcomes. (Of course, if he wants to pay his highest performing teachers at board certified levels, that is fine with me.)

Based on his comments, Gorman’s next step is clear. He should storm the education building (but make sure to sign in at the front desk) and demand that the state loosen certification requirements, Teach for America style. Let’s broaden the hiring base and make is easier for schools to hire the best candidate for the job, rather than the ed school graduate with the right credentials.

I also heard that Sugar Creek and KIPP Charlotte, both public charter schools, are doing some great things with at-risk kids. Wouldn’t it be great if Charlotte had a few more schools like them? (Hint, hint, remove the cap on charter schools.)