Thursday, August 5, 2010

Teachers Matter.


As the Head of a School that ends in 6th grade, I periodically have to answer the question of when is the most important time for parents to invest in education for their children. And always I answer - the early childhood and elementary years are the most important in a child’s educational experience. A new research study profiled in the New York Times last week confirms that thought, demonstrating that while the children they studied did not show significant differences on standardized tests during their school years, children with strong early elementary teachers did better in their adult lives across a variety of parameters. In fact, David Leonhardt from the New York Times noted that they were very different people as adults; “Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.” And the single most important factor among determining a good educational and learning experience? The children’s teachers in those early years - even more important than their high school teachers.

Teachers do matter. They make a difference in the lives of our children. And as this research demonstrates, they make a difference in our children’s future. It is an important reminder that we as adults need to recognize how important these early elementary years are and give children a learning environment where they are nurtured and coached to succeed.

The full text of the NYT article is available here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/economy/28leonhardt.html?_r=2

The research project is presented here:
http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/STAR_slides.pdf