Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.....
Gee, ya think? This article had me right until then end - then:Mr. Chetty and his colleagues — one of whom, Emmanuel Saez, recently won the prize for the top research economist under the age of 40 — estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year. That’s the present value of the additional money that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers. This estimate doesn’t take into account social gains, like better health and less crime.Obviously, great kindergarten teachers are not going to start making $320,000 anytime soon.
Yeah, that Pittsburgh model is going to work out great, just as soon as they figure out which objective assessments will identify their best Kindergarten teachers (especially since, as the NYT article points out, the gains from good K teaching don't manifest themselves for years and can't be measured with a standardized test).Still, school administrators can do more than they’re doing.They can pay their best teachers more, as Pittsburgh soon will, and give them the support they deserve. Administrators can fire more of their worst teachers, as Michelle Rhee, the Washington schools chancellor, did last week. Schools can also make sure standardized tests are measuring real student skills and teacher quality, as teachers’ unions have urged.
And of course we all know Michele Rhee's culling of the dead wood was absolutely foolproof.
But, you know, let's just make sure those standardized tests are measuring "real student skills and teacher quality." How hard could that be?