Friday, October 17, 2003

More On Education

How much of an effect do bad teachers have on their students? From the Dallas Observer:

" But this story, about the numbers on the page before me, is urgent. Here, I will read you one row from the table: 57.2, 40.83, 33.26, 33.41. There. You have just witnessed the educational annihilation of a cohort of children.

These numbers are the mean math scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for a certain set of elementary students in the Dallas public school system, measured annually from third to sixth grades. In that four-year period, this set of students dropped from the 63.19 percentile to the 21.89 percentile, a plummet of 41.3 points. Like all the kids in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, these children started out above average. But these real-life kids wound up in the toilet.

Now ask me why. Were these poor kids? Minority children? Country youngsters? Kids from broken homes? Children of drug abusers? Children with learning disabilities?

The correct answer is none of the above. These numbers are the human scar tissue of bad teachers. The kids in the group described above were the ones unlucky enough to draw the worst teachers in their schools for four years in a row. "