Harvard Study Says “Good Teachers” Shape The Futures Of Children. What About Parents?

The New York Times released a story on a study linking “good teaching” to lasting positive affects on students. The study, conducted by Harvard and Columbia University researchers, tracked 2.5 million students over a 20 year period and concluded:

Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings.

Value-Added-Ratings, a controversial system now being used to measure teacher effectiveness, is likely to be influenced by the results of this new study, says Robert H. Meyer, director of theValue-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study, mostly tracked student success based on test scores and found good teachers had a longer lasting impact on students than bad teachers, as summed up by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The difference between excellent teachers, average teachers and poor teachers had a substantial impact on the income potential of students.

  • All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income.
  • Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000 for each year of teaching.
  • A low value-added teacher in a school for 10 years will result in about $2.5 million in lost income for his/her students, when compared with an average teacher.

While previous studies suggested that the impact of good/bad teachers does not last beyond a three-or four-year period, this study argues that the impacts have significant longevity, manifesting themselves in areas beyond academics and earnings.

  • Students with superior teachers have lower rates of teenage pregnancy.
  • Students are more likely to enroll in college if they received superior teachers in their younger years of education.

Perhaps the study neglected to include some important information in its research. In 2009, Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, released a study on homeschooling student achievement and found that homeschoolers, regardless of family income, educational status of parents, or financial outlay for educational material scored 34–39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests, than their publicly schooled counterparts.

So with the great educational reform debate raging in the United States, perhaps some pertinent questions need to be addressed.

Does teacher certification/qualification really have anything to do with student academic achievement? Does teacher influence trump parental influence in the life of students and the decisions they make about higher education and abstinence? Are test scores really the only thing we hang our hats on, in determining longterm personal success of high academic achieving students, or does a solid family influence, such as is found in most homeschooling families, come into play? Bottom line, what studies/research is there to show “good teachers” are more effective at influencing the lives of children than “good” parents?


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5 Responses to Harvard Study Says “Good Teachers” Shape The Futures Of Children. What About Parents?

  1. Anngie1984 says:

    Eric A. Hanushek, Ph.D. Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University said, “We know parents are very important, but we realize that high quality schools can make up for deficiencies children bring to classrooms…Having good teachers a number of years in a row can offset the disadvantages that some kids have from being less prepared coming to school and from their families not giving them the same start.” http://bit.ly/yMmb7G I am not a fan of Hanushek, but his credentials mean that there are those out there who buy this. In a perfect world you could get “good teachers” in schools to make up for deficiencies at home, but he also admits that, “Our research methods are currently incapable of sorting out the various ways in which learning goes on in classrooms and the characteristics that are important [for the teacher to have]. None of the measured attributes that we’ve always used for teacher quality are very closely related to what the student achievement outcomes are in classrooms.” Thus, we are currently incapable of defining what makes a good teacher. And even if we could, a single good teacher is not necessarily good for every type of student in her classroom, so it’s still sort of a crap shoot whether school could make up for poor parental influence. Making a connection with the child and being flexible as circumstances change seems to be keys to being a good teacher and that sounds an awful lot like something a parent would be good at.

  2. patriotsoul says:

    I meant to add, this kind of mentality did NOT come from teachers. A parent taught this child to think freely! This can also happen in conjunction with schools, but in college, and now in grade schools, these days, it is actually suppressed.

  3. Pingback: Harvard Study Says “Good Teachers” Shape The Futures Of Children. What About Parents? | missourigrassrootscoalition.org

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