If you didn’t see it, on Monday of this week (Labor Day), the Albuquerque Journal had a great article about efforts by the Los Angeles Times to shed some light on the impact teachers have on student performance. The Times article can be found here.
Basically, the newspaper in LA is doing work that the education departments, the labor unions, and other education entities either won’t or don’t want to do. Among the basic findings were:
• Highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year. There is a substantial gap at year’s end between students whose teachers were in the top 10 percent in effectiveness and the bottom 10 percent. The fortunate students ranked 17 percentile points higher in English and 25 points higher in math.
• Contrary to popular belief, the best teachers were not concentrated in schools in the most affluent neighborhoods, nor were the weakest instructors bunched in poor areas.
• Although many parents fixate on picking the right school for their child, it matters far more which teacher the child gets. Teachers had three times as much influence on students’ academic development as the school they attend. Yet parents have no access to objective information about individual instructors.
• Many of the factors commonly assumed to be important to teachers’ effectiveness were not. Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved their students’ performance.
The fact is that excellent teachers matter tremendously and they can overcome bad parents and many other problems, but they don’t share the traits for which teachers are rewarded and that teachers unions push as important. Our own Tom Molitor has written in support of greater transparency and grading of teachers in New Mexico. Read the full story from Tom here.