January 21, 2011


The idea for this document results from an article by Mr. Leland Teschler.  Leland is the editor of Machine Design Magazine, a Penton Publication.  He asks the question—“do we really need high-quality teaching”?  I don’t think there is too much doubt that, like other professions, there are good teachers and those that don’t quite “measure up” relative to existing standards.  We have all gone through this at some time; a teacher who knows the subject “cold” but just can’t deliver the message. Can’t get is across.  Can’t connect.  Then there are others who simply don’t know the subject matter.  A much more fundamental problem!    One response received was from a teacher who said, “teacher quality did not matter much in what eventually happens to students”.  Now,  we have proof that good instruction from secondary school teachers does affect the earning power of a graduated student.  Dr. Eric Hanushek from Stanford University provides us with the following information:

  • One standard deviation in math scores for a graduating senior translates into a 10% increase in annual salary.  The present value for lifetime income between the ages of 25 and 70 is $ 1.16 million.  With that being the case, an improvement by one standard deviation would add $150,000 to that figure.
  • There is a definite improvement in cognitive skills accompanying this improvement in math skills.  This improvement would add $10,600 to lifetime earning.
  • A significantly better teacher would add $300,000 to the lifetime earnings for a class of 30 students –just as a result of improved cognitive ability.
  • If the lower 8% of teachers were replaced with average teachers, we would rank as highly as South Korea, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada.  Removing these teachers would drive our ultimate ability to produce graduates who could compete in a world environment.



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