The Teacher Effect

By Anthony Rebora — September 12, 2007 1 min read
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This just in: Good teaching matters. Indeed, a new study out of Pittsburgh suggests that improving teacher quality across the board may be the surest way to close the racial achievement gap. The study, which looked at Pittsburgh students’ test scores over a two-year period, found that a student’s teacher was a better predictor of his or her performance than race. The scores varied widely depending on the teachers’ ranking, the study says, regardless of students’ race. “These … are not random effects,” said Robert P. Strauss, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who led the study. “In Pittsburgh, the teachers who are successful are successful with black kids and white kids.”

Still, school officials cautioned against reading too much into the report. “Poverty is a factor that affects achievement … race is a larger factor,” said Linda Lane, Pittsburgh’s deputy superintendent of schools. “And there’s a lot of variation in African-American achievement from one school to the next … but we don’t always know what that difference might be.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.