Cross posted to myDedham.org.
Since news broke on myDedham last week about the Avery School being identified for improvement by the federal government – and parents subsequently being offered the choice to transfer their kids to other schools – its been a hot topic of discussion around town. Traffic to the blog has been way up, and when I ran into an Avery parent at a bar on the Cape last weekend it’s all we talked about.
It’s also got me thinking about the research I did in grad school. My Master’s thesis was on what cities and towns in Massachusetts can do to improve their education systems. My single biggest surprise was reading over and over again about just how critically important teachers are. Obviously everyone understands that they play a crucial role; without them a school is just a building full of books and kids.
However, teacher effectiveness is the single biggest variable when you look at how successful students are. It’s more important than poverty, language spoken at home, parents’ education level, and the like. A disadvantaged student with a great teacher will leap ahead while a student with everything going for her will likely fall behind if she is stuck with an ineffective teacher. Studies show this over and over again.
To mention one recent study, a Harvard economist has found that by age 27, students with good kindergarten teachers are earning about $1,000 more per year than students who had average teachers. In fact, they “estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year. That’s the present value of the additional money that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers.” Read the rest of this entry »