Importance of Teachers

Source: The Education Trust (2011)

Every child, no matter where they come from, deserves great teachers. Passionate, motivating, effective teachers are the foundation of a quality education; and a quality education opens the doors to a lifetime of opportunity. Research shows that quality teachers make the difference—not only in students’ academic performance but also in their lifetime success. A win for Plaintiffs in Vergara v. California would allow California to modernize its public school system and elevate the teaching profession by creating meaningful career ladders and opportunities for leadership for our educators.

Facts from trial:

  • According to the testimony of Dr. Thomas Kane, a student assigned to a grossly ineffective math teacher in Los Angeles loses 11.73 months of learning per year compared to a student assigned to a teacher of average effectiveness.
  • According to the testimony of Dr. Thomas Kane, a student assigned to a grossly ineffective English Language Arts teacher in Los Angeles loses 9.54 months of learning per year compared to a student assigned to a teacher of average effectiveness.
  • According to the testimony of Dr. Raj Chetty, a student assigned to a grossly ineffective teacher loses $50,000 in potential lifetime earnings compared to a student assigned to a teacher of average effectiveness. A classroom of 28 children loses $1.4 million in lifetime earnings.
  • If only 3 percent of California’s 275,000 teachers are grossly ineffective and each teaches only 25 students per year, students lose $11.6 billion in lifetime earnings each year.

Quotes from trial:

  • “[Having an extremely bad teacher] discouraged me from coming to class. It put me behind my peers…I want a fair chance to succeed…I was hurt because mentally I couldn’t do anything about this teacher…As a teacher, you should always progress your students forward, not two steps back.” – Brandon DeBose, Jr., Plaintiff and High School Student, Oakland Unified School District
  • “Being assigned to a highly effective teacher generates substantial long-term gains for students; and, conversely, being assigned to a highly ineffective teacher generates significant harm for students in the long-term.” – Dr. Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • “The mission of the district is to assure students learn. It’s the only reason I open my doors in the morning. Students come to us and we make the promise that they will graduate college and be workforce ready. In order to do that, the most important factor is a teacher—a highly effective teacher. And if the students are not given a right to be in front of a highly effective teacher every single day, that is not in the best interest of them. That’s what we are in the business for.” – Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

More:

  • A landmark study released over a decade ago on the cumulative and residual effects of teachers on future student achievement found that teacher quality impacts student achievement more than class size, per-pupil spending and a student demographics and background. Read more.
  • For example, according to the Education Trust-West, “the average student taught by a top-quartile, English-language arts teacher in LAUSD gained half a year more learning than a student placed with a bottom-quartile teacher. In math, the difference amounts to about four months.” In contrast, students with consecutive low-performing teachers remained stuck below grade level and potentially behind for life. Learn more.
  • A 20-year study of 2.5 million children in grades 3 through 8, released in January 2012, demonstrates that teacher effectiveness is directly linked to students’ college attendance, lifetime earnings, and retirement savings. Read more.