These economists examined 2.5 million children (the largest pool of students ever studied) from a large urban school district from 3rd -8th grade and then to adulthood (the longest period one particular subject pool has been studied) looking at a teacher's "value added" score and its impact upon these students over time. This score was defined as the average test-score gain (in reading and math) for their students, statistically "adjusted for differences across classrooms in student characteristics." These data covered the 2.5 million students and 18 million math and reading tests spanning 1989-2009.
Here are some of the ZINGERS as reported in the study:
- When a high value added teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade/subject taught by that teacher (and only in what is taught by that teacher), and falls if/when that teacher leaves.
- On average, having a high value-added teacher for one years raises a child's total lifetime income by $9,000.
- All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher.
- The student with the excellent teacher would also be 0.5 percent more likely to attend college.
- Replacing a poor teacher (whose value added score is in the bottom 5%) with a teacher of average quality would generate lifetime earnings gains worth over $250,00 for the average classroom.
- Controlling for numerous factors including students' backgrounds, the researchers found that the value-added scores consistently identified some teachers as better than others, even if individual teachers' value-added scores varied from year to year.
- Students with top teachers are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, are more likely to enroll in college, and are more likely to earn more money as adults.
With all this in mind, I would like to thank the following teachers for having had such an impact on me and or on my kids. [Please leave your own acknowledgements in the comments.]
My very special thanks to:
- Mr. Benami - my high school science teacher who saw through the quiet girl in class, encouraging me to think, grow, and participate. He set high but realistic goals for me to reach and as a result I have always loved science.
- Mrs. Gross and Mrs. Pfiefer - my middle school social studies and science teachers who also saw and encouraged my potential WAY before I did.
- Mr. Sandomir -for understanding my son, validating his feelings, comments and intellect, and for challenging him to write poems and prose that still touch our hearts. Mr. Sandomir, when teaching Phillip Pulman's His Dark Materials books told his 6th grade class that they were based on Milton's Paradise Lost. My son was so taken, he read Paradise Lost (NOT your average 6th grader independent reading) and still talks about it.
- Mrs. Teig - THE BEST math ... ever. She was tough, demanding and relatively unflexible in her demands. A bit like Mary Poppins, she would bake and bring wonderful candies and patries to school and nurture each of her students reinforcing their accomplishments and risk-taking while restructuring their mistakes and steps backward. ALL her students felt her love. Her 5-8 grade math classes put my daughters at the top of their high school math classes to the point that their school had to set up special accelerated math groups for them. One daughter is now a middle school teacher, the other, having majored in math and physics in college is a materials engineer.
Thanks again to you all - please don't forget to tell us about your value-added teachers in the comments!