Research Shows Good Teachers Matter Most

Here’s an argument we business types can understand about the impact of good teachers on education quality and education reform:

The Hamilton Project looked at the 25 percent of teachers who raised their students’ test scores the most, and the 25 percent who raise students’ scores the least. A student assigned to a class with a teacher in the top 25 percent could expect - after just one year - to be 10 percentile points higher than a similar student with a bottom-tier teacher."

"…the black-white achievement gap nationally is roughly 34 percentage points. Therefore, if the effects were to accumulate, having a top quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row would be enough to close the black-white test score gap.”

This data comes from the Hamilton Project, which is affiliated with the Brookings Institution. It was prepared by Robert Gordon of the Center for American Progress, Thomas Kane of Harvard and Doug Staigerof of Dartmouth. I read about it in an NTY op-ed entitled, Gold Stars and Dunce Caps, by Nicholas D. Kristof

The report calls for the following dramatic policy changes to get and keep good teachers, and get them to teach in the places where they can make the most difference: end teacher certification; make tenure more difficult to get so that weak teachers can be weeded out after two or three years on the job; and award $15,000 annual bonuses to good teachers for as long as they teach at schools in low income areas.

Kristof suggests that the 2008 Presidential candidates need to take these ideas and run with them. But what we can do as individuals and philanthropists? Let us know your ideas.

Carla E. Dearing

Posted at 7:22 AM, Jun 01, 2007 in Education | Permalink | Comment