Good teachers matter, big study finds
Chicago Tribune
Tucson, Arizona | Published:
CHICAGO A comprehensive study released Thursday has finally proven what anecdotal evidence has long suggested: Poorly qualified teachers drag down student achievement.


The first-of-its kind study demonstrated that elementary- and high-school students even those in middle-and upper-income families post higher scores on state exams and are more prepared for college if they attend schools where teacher quality is ranked high.


Low-income and minority children benefit the most from good teachers, the study found. In Illinois' poorest elementary schools with low teacher quality, the average pass rate on state tests was 31 percent. But in similar low-income schools with higher-ranked teachers, the rate jumped to 43 percent, research revealed.


The researchers evaluated teachers in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio, ranking schools according to a teacher quality score.


In Illinois, that score was determined by five factors: the average college entrance exam score of all teachers in the school; results on the teacher licensing test of basic skills; a national ranking of college attended; years of experience; and number of teachers with provisional credentials. All of the state's 3,800 public schools were evaluated.


"We now know that all kinds of kids, poor, rich, minority, white are affected by their teacher's ability," said Kati Haycock, who heads Education Trust, the Washington think tank that helped underwrite the study. "The research shows that kids who have two, three, four strong teachers in a row will eventually excel, no matter what their background, while kids who have even two weak teachers in a row will never recover."