According to a massive new study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Columbia Universities, good elementary and middle school teachers have a lasting impact on many different aspects of their students’ lives.
The study followed 2.5 million students for more than 20 years, and examined many different social and quality of life indicators beyond academics. Students who learned from a “good teacher” – one who consistently raised student test scores from year to year – were less likely to become pregnant as a teen, more likely to attend and graduate from college, and showed greater adult earning potential than those who were not exposed to good teachers. For example, the study found that a student with just one excellent teacher between 4th and 8th grade would generate an additional $4,600 in lifetime income, against students who had simply an “average” teacher. The study also found that simply replacing a “poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000.”