Low ability teachers, low ability students?

[cross-posted at LeaderTalk]

Here are some research findings for you...

Smart people leave teaching?

Of the teachers who had high college entrance exam scores, almost a fourth of them leave the profession within a decade. In contrast, only about 11% of the individuals with low scores leave the teaching profession within 10 years. Similarly, more than a third of the teachers with low college entrance exam scores are still teaching a decade after they started, while only 15% of the teachers with high scores are still teaching ten years after they began (Anderson & Carroll, 2008; see also Guarino, Santibanez, & Daley (2006), who note similar results for university selectiveness and certification exam scores). In other words, the percentage of teachers with lower academic ability increases in schools over time. The brightest go elsewhere.

Teacher smarts matter?

  • Higher teacher ACT scores positively influences student reading scores (Ferguson & Ladd, 1996)
  • Teachers' verbal ability influences student performance (Greenwald, Hedges, & Laine, 1996)
  • [S]tudents learn more from teachers with higher test scores. Test scores matter..." (Wayne & Youngs, 2003)
  • Discuss among yourselves

    Let's assume that, generally speaking, these studies are correct: 1) smart people are less likely to stay in teaching (thus resulting in a concentration of teachers with lower academic ability), and 2) the academic ability of teachers impacts student learning outcomes. Now what?


    • Anderson, S. E., & Carroll, C. D. (2008). Teacher career choices: Timing of teacher careers among 1992-1993 Bachelor's degree recipients (NCES 2008-153). Washington, DC: United States Department of Education.
    • Ferguson, R.F., & Ladd, H.F. (1996). How and why money matters: An analysis of Alabama schools. In H.F. Ladd (Ed.), Holding schools accountable. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 265-298.
    • Greenwald, R., Hedges, L.V., & Laine, R.D. (1996, Autumn). The effect of school resources on student achievement. Review of Educational Research, 66(3), 361-396.
    • Guarino, C. M., Santibanez, L., & Daley, G. A. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 76(2), 173-208.
    • Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73(1), 89-122.
    • 5 facts you should know about the world’s refugees

      Many governments do not report, or misreport, the numbers of refugees who enter their country.

      David McNew/Getty Images
      Politics & Current Affairs

      Conflict, violence, persecution and human rights violations led to a record high of 70.8 million people being displaced by the end of 2018.

      Keep reading Show less

      Are these 100 people killing the planet?

      Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

      Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
      Strange Maps
      • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
      • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
      • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
      Keep reading Show less

      Bernie Sanders' student debt plan bails out the rich

      Bernie Sanders reveals an even bigger plan than Elizabeth Warren, but does it go too far?

      SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
      Politics & Current Affairs
      • Bernie Sanders has released a plan to forgive all the student debt in the country.
      • It is even larger than the plan Elizabeth Warren put forward two months ago.
      • The plan has drawn criticism for forgiving the debt of both the poor and those well off enough to pay their own debt.
      Keep reading Show less