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Research Report: Teachers

“Do Smarter Teachers Make Smarter Students?”
By Madeline Will — March 05, 2019 1 min read
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When teachers have higher cognitive skills, their students perform better academically, according to a new study in the journal Education Next using data from 31 countries.

The study uses data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies to gauge the reading and math skills of about 6,400 test-takers who work as teachers, as well as student-achievement data from the Program for International Student Assessment.

It found that increasing teachers’ math skills by one standard deviation boosts student performance by nearly 15 percent of a standard deviation on the PISA math test. The effect of increasing teachers’ literacy skills on students’ reading performance is slightly smaller, but still positive.

Notably, teachers have stronger cognitive skills—and their students perform better in math and reading—in countries that pay teachers more such as Canada, Finland, and Ireland.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 06, 2019 edition of Education Week as Teachers


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