Investment in teacher quality pays off

Investment in teacher quality pays off – Brief Article

The greatest predictor of student achievement is not student demographics, overall school spending, class size or teacher salaries. According to Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, teacher quality is the variable that most influences student achievement. And among the variables assessing teacher quality, the most powerful predictor of student achievement is the percentage of teachers with full certification and a major in the field.

“Substantial evidence from prior reform efforts indicates that changes in course taking, curriculum content, testing or textbooks make little difference if teachers do not know how to use these tools well and how to diagnose their students’ learning needs,” she said.

While smaller class sizes “appear to contribute to student learning,” the gains are most likely to be realized “when they are accompanied by the hiring of well-qualified teachers. The large-scale hiring of unqualified teachers, as was the case in California’s recent class size reduction initiative, would likely offset any achievement gains that could be realized by smaller class sizes.”

“Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence,” was published by the Education Policy Analysis Archives (

Teaching out of love, not money

Despite headlines depicting new teachers as disillusioned, findings from a study by Public Agenda show that an overwhelming majority of new teachers say teaching is work they love to do. In a spring 2000 survey of teachers who have been on the job five years or less, teachers were asked, “How important is it to you that a job have each of the following characteristics?”

% of new teachers responding Absolutely Current

essential teaching


has it

Involves work you love to do 83% 96%

Allows enough time to be with family 81 79

Contributes to society and helps others 72 97

Provides the supervision

and support you need 64 78

Has job security 60 84

Gives the sense you are

respected and appreciated 59 66

Has good opportunities for advancement 33 59

Pays well 30 31

Source: “A Sense of Calling: Who Teaches and Why;’ (2000), Public Agenda,

COPYRIGHT 2001 Association of California School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group