Friday, April 23, 2010

In other news, the equator is really hot.

A headline like “Better teachers help children read faster” seems to be stating the obvious, doesn’t it? Getting past the headline (reporters do not write headlines and spend a lot of time trying to get past them), journalists at Associated Press and Education Week had solid reasons to cover a new piece of work about teacher effects in the primary grades, especially given the current debate on value-added—hey, how often do we get a twin study in education research? And they did a good job explaining the work.

Even given its apparent methodological strengths, though, I’m not convinced that the original report in Science magazine, Teacher Quality Moderates the Genetic Effects on Early Reading, is telling us something anyone truly contests. People disagree on how much teachers can compensate for student deficiencies and how to measure their influence. But would anyone really predict that if one twin spends the year with that teacher everybody wants and the other with the teacher everyone dreads, they would come out in June reading at exactly the same level?

1 comment:

  1. I laughed so hard at YOUR headline. You gotta scratch your head with the "breakthrough" nature of these stories. Of course teachers matter. Of course teaching "quality" matters. Agree about what most people "disagree" on : how to measure influence and how much teachers can compensate for student deficiencies. I also might add "what is an effective teacher?" which also brings in how great teaching can maximize strengths & interests, challenge kids to higher levels, and even spark an interest/talent in something the student never even knew they had. In other words, great teachers have a way of going beyond the baseline. We all had a teacher like that - the lucky ones had more than one -
    Your last line pretty much says it all! Duh!