What teacher research doesn't say

Teachers are the “most important factor” in students’ success, President Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He’s wrong, writes Linda Pearlstein, now blogging at The Educated Reporter. Researchers don’t say teacher quality is more important than what parents are doing at home.

Of the various factors inside school, teacher quality has had more effect on student scores than any other that has been measured. (Principal quality: Nobody’s effectively isolated this yet, that I know of, but I’d venture to guess it makes as much if not more of a difference.) And that an effective teacher can move students of all backgrounds forward. Certainly nobody has ever proven that good teaching matters more than, say, genetic endowment, or home environment.

I’d like to see more foundation money go into looking for ways to help “at risk parents” do better with their kids. In my years of reporting on poverty and my work on Our School, I met many parents who didn’t understand what they could do to help their kids succeed in school and stay away from gangs.

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