Value Added Teachers

We love our teachers.  Most people when asked to name the most influential people in their life outside their parents name teachers.  And more than loving our teachers, we CHERISH our best teachers.  These are the blessed souls that “save us”.  These are the folks who make the difference.  Sometimes it’s literal; a teacher reaches out and is the difference between a kid failing out or graduating.  Other times it’s just to magnify the focus; a good student becomes great.

These are the teachers we mean when we say teachers don’t make enough.  These are the ones, the special ones.

But how do we find ’em, pay ’em and keep ’em?

There may be a way.

It turns out that there are methods, taught to us by our most favorite of teachers – MATH teachers, that we can use to identify those teachers.  Using statistical methods, we ‘re able to track how students perform on tests and use that data to predict how they’ll perform on future tests.  Armed with this information, we can measure the impact of a teacher based on how well the students in her class perform above or below expectations.  Note that this controls for a teacher who may have a classroom of low performers.  We expect them to continue to under perform and when or if they exceed expectations, we know we have an exceptional teacher.

The results are amazing:

  • When a high VA teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade taught by that teacher; when a high VA teacher leaves, test scores fall.
  • Test scores change only in the subject taught by that teacher.
  • Students of a high VA teacher are more likely to attend college.
  • Students of a high VA teacher are are more likely to earn higher salaries.
  • Students of a high VA teacher are are more likely to live in better neighborhoods.
  • Students of a high VA teacher are are more likely to save more for retirement.
  • Students of a high VA teacher are are less likely to have children as teenagers.

The impact of high VA teachers can’t be overstated.  In a similar manner, low VA teachers are as destructive as high VA teachers valuable.  Simply replacing a very low VA teacher with JUST AN AVERAGE teacher results in a cumulative earnings gains of $52,000 per student.

We know teachers are life changing agents. Making sure we identify, hire, retain, pay and leverage the High Value teachers is critical. In the same vein, identifying Low Value teachers and firing them just as quickly as we can is equally important.

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