Teachers Can Make a Difference

October 5, 2017 is World Teacher's Day. Do teachers really make a difference in the education of our children? With all the factors that can influence learning outcomes, it is not straightforward to extract how much of the results can really be attributed to a teacher. Neverthelss, a recent study from the Netherlands that focuses on twins has been able to establish a relationship between teacher quality and student achievement. As a policy, twins in Netherlands are placed into different classes. Since most factors are often equivalent between twins, being enrolled in different classes allows for researchers to relate academic outcomes to the only factor that is different between the twins, teachers. Doing so reveals one characteristic that is important for teacher quality. It is experience.

Above copied from UNESCO

Better academic outcomes are associated with teachers having more experience. One year of experience is equivalent to one percent of a standard deviation. And this relationship appears to be stronger during the primary years than in secondary education.

The above finding only reminds us that empowering teachers means so much more than just recruiting them. Empowering teachers mean supporting them all throughout their career. As the Netherlands' study concludes:
More focused policies that maintain experienced teachers in the classroom appear beneficial, especially for younger students.
First things first, we need to take care of the teachers who teach our young children.