To the Editor:
I was surprised to read the statement, “We know that the quality of teaching a student receives is the single most important predictor of student performance,” in the piece “Moving Beyond Test Scores” (Commentary, Jan. 19, 2011). Parent education and occupation and family income, a student’s educational expectations, and non-English-language status are all factors that have correlated highly with educational achievement in the past. The quality of the teacher turns out to be particularly important for socially disadvantaged students, who often attend schools with less experienced and/or qualified teachers.
Countries with better educational outcomes than ours do focus on teacher preparation and working conditions. Teacher effectiveness is important; I would like, however, to see a more nuanced statement when the topic is introduced.
Silver Spring, Md.
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Many Factors Affect Student Success in School