New Study Says Great Teachers Worth $100 Trillion More in U.S. GDP
According to a December 2010 report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the economic value of effective teachers is worth as much as $100 Trillion in U.S. GDP. The findings, originally reported by AOL’s Daily Finance, state that “a student may learn as much as three times more material from a top-performing teacher as a similar student does from a bottom-performing teacher.” The article adds, “In fact, in one year, a well-above-average teacher — in this case, one that’s in the 84th percentile of effectiveness — may lead to as much as $400,000 in additional lifetime earnings for her class of 20 compared to an average teacher.”
While the study sheds light on the impact of quality educators, it raises several questions. For starters, who is considered an effective teacher? Measuring teacher performance continues to be highly debated topic (See last year’s LA Times investigation of LAUSD teacher data) and the extent to which we can determine “good” and “bad” teachers is still uncertain.
The study also states that teacher effectiveness is actually more significant in a classroom than the number of students per class. Dominic Bower, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education who is quoted in Daily Finance, agrees. “This is a credible study, and it points to some of the trade-offs that are often ignored.”
Regardless of whether you agree with the study or not, one point of contention remains: How do we reward great teachers? Until we find an answer to this question, studies like these will continue to reinforce a message that many of us already know – great teachers matter.
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