The cost of a bad teacher

June 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Eric Hanushek in the NY Times writes:

A small percentage of inflicts disproportionate harm on children. Each year a grossly ineffective teacher continues in the classroom reduces the future earnings of the class by thousands of dollars by dramatically lowering the college chances and employment opportunities of students. 

There is also a national impact. The future economic well being of the United States is entirely dependent on the skills of our population. Replacing the poorest performing 5 to 8 percent of teachers with an average teacher would, by my calculations, yield improved productivity and growth that amounts to trillions of dollars. 

Protecting bad teachers has a massive impact on students. and through them the country. we should pay our best teachers more, and move on those teachers who are not skilled in connecting with students/

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36 Responses to “The cost of a bad teacher”

  1. wreck1080 (3,918 comments) says:

    when teachers complain about pay, they do not seem to appreciated the unprecedented job security compared with the corporate world.

    Teachers turning 40 is no deterrent to future employment. Try that in the business world and see what happens. Not quite as easy.

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  2. Bill Courtney (161 comments) says:

    Usual hopelessly one-sided blogging from Farrar. Here is the link to the page from the New York Times, where both sides were put forward:
    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/06/11/does-tenure-protect-bad-teachers-or-good-schools

    Two points to note: first, this was in response to the Vergara decision in California, discussed recently. There are some great pieces analysing that decision, including how poor it was from a purely legal perspective:
    http://www.salon.com/2014/06/19/this_is_a_b_student’s_opinion_why_the_education_reformers_latest_victory_is_built_on_sand/

    Second, we do not have “tenure” as they do in America. In NZ, competency procedures are set out in the various collective agreements and hundreds of competency proceedings take place every year in New Zealand schools. As a consequence, dozens of teachers leave the profession every year.

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  3. Chuck Bird (4,888 comments) says:

    “we should pay our best teachers more, and move on those teachers who are not skilled in connecting with students”

    Should not a similar policy apply to judges? We could start with the judge who gave a man a years home detention for impregnating the 13 year old daughter of a women he was dating.

    Any lawyers who could justify such an outrageous sentence.

    DG, would you know if this guy committed a strike offence?

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  4. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Second, we do not have “tenure” as they do in America.

    So? That wasn’t the point.

    As a consequence, dozens of teachers leave the profession every year.

    Dozens you say? In 2008 there were 50,950 teachers in NZ.

    And you say that every year, the worst 100 are replaced?

    Big whoop.

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  5. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Should not a similar policy apply to judges?

    Dont thread jack.

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  6. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    DPF and everyone else:

    If you are interested in freedom of the internet – and schooling [public vs charter] – then this link will describe to you how US public schools are EXACTLY the same as Nth Korean ones! [ It takes all of 2 minutes to read]

    “…….And other findings:……the school websites blocked…..Christianity.com……as was the Vatican’s site — but not Islam-guide.com,……I could access the Democrats homepage…….but the Repblican site was disallowed!!!

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/06/student_protests_school_blocking_conservative_websites_but_not_liberal_ones

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  7. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    We hear many reports about teachers complaining that they get no respect. If teachers had real respect for education, they would be working to get rid of bad educators, not reward mediocrity with job security.

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  8. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    This gives me an idea for a brilliant new Labour Party policy. They should pay the worst teachers 10% more on condition that they stay out of classrooms. Insane of course, but it would improve teaching without offending the union-backed tossers in our classrooms who control the Labour Party.

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  9. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    In NZ, competency procedures are set out in the various collective agreements and hundreds of competency proceedings take place every year in New Zealand schools. As a consequence, dozens of teachers leave the profession every year.

    Thanks Bill. I wasn’t aware that the crisis in teacher quality had reached such magnitude. The proportion (of incompetent teachers) you indicate seems roughly consistent with Hanushek’s 5% to 8%.

    Given your inference that this proportion leaves the profession every year for reasons of competence, do you think the focus should be on ensuring a proper cleanout of the incompetent teachers? Something akin to a purge – cut the rotten flesh away so that the rotten limb of education can renew?

    My concern with that is that we might not have many left, so we need to have some balance between at least getting some education for our kids (albeit at the cost identified by Hanushek). Perhaps we should seek to lift entry standards in combination with performance pay so that the system doesn’t bear the cost of carrying incompetent teachers and eventually having to get rid of them? Maybe even introduce psychological evaluation to weed out the rotten apples up front?

    What do you think?

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  10. Dave_1924 (116 comments) says:

    I don’t know DPF – look at the damage inflicted on the whole Country when various Teachers like Trevor Mallard and company were moved on from teaching into Politics!!!! Those kids are making a noble sacrifice keeping those leftie teachers in the classroom…..

    /HUMOUR

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  11. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    I don’t know…..all the sex ed teachers must be ok – as they keep getting a 97% pass rate year on year – which btw is the world average! :cool:

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  12. mike tan (485 comments) says:

    There needs to be a stronger focus on internet based learning, e.g khanacademy.org, lowers costs, is available on demand and places the classroom at any location. It should of course be coupled with human guidance, but i think that the days of sitting at a desk staring at a board are numbered.

    It is interesting to ponder that the Internet Party could be pushing for this (maybe they are, i don’t know) but it can be interpreted as a threat by the teachers unions (which form the left, which the IP relies on for votes).

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  13. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    Kids should be able to walk out of a classroom of a teacher who is no good and get offered an alternative. Kids know who the idiot teachers are and the Unions who are protecting them should be smashed.

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  14. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    you guys forget. teaching is the only job on the planet that cant be measured for performance.

    so how do you get rid of the bad teachers?

    ask all teachers to put up their hands and say if they are shit? then fire em?

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  15. Captain Pugwash (98 comments) says:

    In my humble opinion teachers today are far better today than they were back in the early ’80 when I was in high school. The biggest problem by far in schools are the drop kick kids, from drop kick families, causing havoc in the school environment.

    From my experience, under preforming teachers have been weeded out before they start teaching, once they do start teaching their performance is monitored by more senior teachers plus they do do a lot of on the job training. Of course a lot of the quality of the teaching does come down to the effectiveness of the professional standards of the management at any particular school.

    It’s pointless just to say pay good teachers more. We need all teachers to be good. Unfortunately, as I said before, one of the biggest problems some schools face, are having to deal with societies drop kicks. They just suck up resources & teachers spend more time putting out fires than they do teaching. Some schools now are proper social workers to deal with problematic kids & their families so the teachers can teach the kids who mostly do want to learn.

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  16. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “It’s pointless just to say pay good teachers more. We need all teachers to be good.”

    yeah, and i need all of my sales people to be great. unfortunately the real world doesnt work that way.

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  17. mike tan (485 comments) says:

    What say you to the theory that a higher rate of pay would attract higher quality teachers?

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  18. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    I still get angry when I think about the good teachers that left my school in chemistry and math and the shit ones I got landed with as replacements who let the idiots ruin the learning for everyone. I could have been good at math.

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  19. Maggy Wassilieff (394 comments) says:

    What or who is a bad teacher? Sometimes a bad teacher isn’t an incompetent teacher. When I was in the 3rd form at Wanganui High School I had Bill Baine (William Alexander Baine) as my art teacher. Decades later he was finally convicted for offences against teenage school boys. His paedophilic activities had commenced in 1951. It is estimated he had at least 100 victims.
    However he was a damn good art teacher, good fun on tramping trips and pretty popular all around.

    http://www.lanternproject.org.uk/library/child-abuse-arrests-and-court-cases/child-abuse-arrests-trials-and-proceedings/teacher-jailed-for-child-abus/

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  20. cha (4,019 comments) says:

    When I was in the 3rd form at Wanganui High School I had Bill Baine (William Alexander Baine) as my art teacher.

    I had Ray Fargher as a form master. He was convicted and imprisoned in 1969 for sodomising a Hamilton Boys High School fourth form class mate of mine.

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  21. Captain Pugwash (98 comments) says:

    “… dime (9,116 comments) says:
    June 22nd, 2014 at 4:46 pm
    “It’s pointless just to say pay good teachers more. We need all teachers to be good.”

    yeah, and i need all of my sales people to be great. unfortunately the real world doesnt work that way…”

    Dime… it comes down to training (teacher education & on going training to keep up with the latest technology & teaching methods and also something that is very often overlooked, is very good, very competent management. This could apply to all NZ businesses. In fact a lot of good schools now have far better management, than the average, small to medium business.

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  22. ross411 (841 comments) says:

    Harriet (4,322 comments) says:
    June 22nd, 2014 at 2:30 pm
    DPF and everyone else:

    If you are interested in freedom of the internet – and schooling [public vs charter] – then this link will describe to you how US public schools are EXACTLY the same as Nth Korean ones! [ It takes all of 2 minutes to read]

    I can describe how the Nazis and Adolf Hitler were forward thinking in terms of locking away the Jew. Doesn’t mean it’s worth reading.

    Why don’t you make a post that takes 2 minutes to read and justifies your point, and don’t waste my time by pointing me to arbitrary links you can’t even describe in an encouraging manner.

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  23. ross411 (841 comments) says:

    People, give it up. This is not something you have a right to be concerned about. It is a union issue, and as a union issue you are denying useless teacher’s human rights to live a life unchallenged at doing what they do badly. The union will defend to the death this right with endless negativity against forward thinking proposals so as to harbour a contingent of useless people who pay them to continue doing what they are doing. This is the union way, and should be your way whether you like it or not. Why else would they buy a political party on the up and up? Vote Labour.

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  24. Lucia Maria (2,428 comments) says:

    My Year 12 boy had a bad Maths teacher last year. Apparently she was really good in England, but wasn’t quite onto it when it came to the NZ curriculum for Year 11 Maths. Her impact was enormous – kids that were doing really well in Maths halfway through the year were almost failing at the end of the year. Fortunately, the crappy NCEA marking system still passes attempts if you kind of look like you know what you are doing.

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  25. big bruv (13,904 comments) says:

    ” Her impact was enormous ”

    Yet you seem so keen to brush off the effect on kids who where raped and sexually abused by Catholic Priests.

    [DPF: 20 demerits as off topic and trolling]

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  26. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    lucia – “Apparently she was really good in England, but wasn’t quite onto it when it came to the NZ curriculum for Year 11 Maths.”

    You mean she couldn’t make head or tail of the new “strategies” that they now use in New Zealand schools to confuse as many children, and teachers, as possible. We are so “progressive”.

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  27. Lucia Maria (2,428 comments) says:

    OneTrack,

    You mean she couldn’t make head or tail of the new “strategies” that they now use in New Zealand schools to confuse as many children, and teachers, as possible.

    Most likely. By the end of the year I’ll have a much clearer idea of what is going on with the NZ Mathematics curriculum, but so far it’s looking to be a complete mess. It’s hard to know, though, because my son is not particularly good at listening to teachers and taking down notes – he’s much happier reading complete explanations and then working through practice on his own. So, some of it could be his particular learning style. Still, some of things we’ve gone through over the last few days he’s said the Saxon Math explanations are far more complete and much simpler than what he’s learned or partially learned at school.

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  28. Captain Pugwash (98 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria (2,159 comments) says:
    “…….. because my son is not particularly good at listening to teachers and taking down notes….”

    So the issue is really that your child is having problems learning, not that the teacher is useless. Sounds like your son needs to learn how to learn. Its pretty obvious if you don’t listen to the teacher don’t take notes and most likely takes no notice at all in class, he might just have a problem learning. And some how your child’s bad behavior is the teachers fault. I suppose you expect the teacher to sit his maths exam for him. Poor little darling, how the hell is he going to cope at university if by year 12 he can’t listen to the teacher or take notes.

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  29. mike tan (485 comments) says:

    It is purely anecdotal, but i recently spoke with someone who flew threw the NCEA system, passing everything with excellence, and is now finding university difficult (and getting poor grades). The person was self-aware enough to reflect that he wished that NCEA wasn’t so soft on him as it gave him a false sense of security going into university.

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  30. mike tan (485 comments) says:

    Captain Pugwash, I think it is an unfair conclusion. If i were Lucia, i would indeed be worried about that pattern and would seek professional guidance, but some people are just naturally like that (and manage to learn well using the method Lucia outlined).

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  31. Anthony (796 comments) says:

    Mike, haven’t found that with my kids – two oldest did quite well at school and doing OK at Uni.

    Agree though that a poor teacher can make life a misery for some students – being oblivious to bullying, etc and not telling the parents that there are problems (that happened to my son). We refused to let our other kids have that teacher and the school was happy to agree.

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  32. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    The bad teachers I had turned me away from subjects that I liked before, and have since pursued in self study starting a short while after my formal education ended.

    I am talking about subjects like Physics and Chemistry.

    Everyone loves to complain about these things being neglected in NZ. I reckon a decent chunk of the reason is possibly the uninspiring, textbook drones turning these beautiful sciences into grey drudgery.

    I have learned more from a 5-minute Youtube video (or even a 1-minute video *wink*) than I would have gotten in a week of lessons in 6th form.

    Why the hell did I only hear about Michael Faraday in my 20’s?

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  33. Maggy Wassilieff (394 comments) says:

    @Kimble… The reason you only heard about Faraday in your 20s is because some science educationalists decided to do away with an historical approach to science teaching. The flavour of the day became constructivist teaching of science….. well-favoured by Waikato Uni folk who seemed to have the upper hand in “constructing” the science curricula in NZ.

    I’m old school…. I got the history (a few minutes per key point.),as well as lots of hands-on stuff in Physics(PSSC) and Chemistry at secondary school. But one of the key features of my science teachers was that most of them had had a life beyond school. They had practical experience of science in the workplace.

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  34. burt (8,272 comments) says:

    You can’t have teachers on individual contracts, think of the union. How will Labour be funded. Come now people, teachers are bread and butter campaign finance. Stop it, union membership numbers are at risk here.

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  35. DisgruntledOne (20 comments) says:

    “Protecting bad teachers has a massive impact on students. and through them the country.”

    Agreed, but any system to remove them has consequences as well. When my teachers are stressed, it shows, and they don’t teach nearly as well. If they were like that all the time it would be a disaster. And I have good teachers.

    “we should pay our best teachers more”

    So now you’re not only looking at sorting them into ‘so bad they need to be sacked’, and ‘fine’, you’re trying to put them on a scale. This has the same problem as before, and also encourages teaching to the test. Given how formulaic and boring NCEA tests tend to be, this is also a problem. (Teaching to the scholarship exams I don’t mind so much).

    Also, just this discussion makes teaching an unappealing career choice. Who wants their pay to a political issue, especially in our current culture of blaming poor teachers for everything rather than being grateful for the good ones?

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  36. Lucia Maria (2,428 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria (2,159 comments) says:
    “…….. because my son is not particularly good at listening to teachers and taking down notes….”

    So the issue is really that your child is having problems learning, not that the teacher is useless.

    Err, no. When I said he was not particularly good, I didn’t mean he couldn’t listen to teachers or take notes, I just meant that on a scale of 10/10 he’d range from 9/10 to 5/10 depending on the subject and the teacher. He has no problems passing, it’s just that he’s striving for all round excellence, and it’s hard to do that if a teacher’s way of explaining things is boring, or puts you to sleep or just goes on for too long. That’s not a disaster for most writing subjects, but can be very problematic for maths or chemistry.

    And last year, in mathematics, he went from having two amazing teachers in the first half of the year that was taking the class way beyond what the other maths classes were able to do, to having no clue what was going on because those teachers left for more money and a promotion at a rival school. They were replaced with a teacher from England who hadn’t got her head around what they needed to learn in algebra. He still passed Mathematics overall with Excellence last year, even though he was a bit lost with the new teacher.

    It’s just that he learns far more completely in the way I mentioned, rather than the method of everything being channeled through a teacher. The teacher ought to be a facilitator of learning – not a gate keeper.

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