Revisiting Teacher Value-Added: The Benefits Last a Lifetime

Harvard University’s Raj Chetty—fresh on the heels of his much-lauded report on teacher value-added measures (VAM)—has unveiled a meatier, more rigorous longitudinal look at VAM. This new study tracks students to age thirty-five and yields some interesting findings. High teacher value-added scores are linked, for example, to students landing college girlfriends/boyfriends by the end of freshman year (and good ones too—athletes, cheerleaders, and the like, not pimply social rejects); being able to do highly advanced yoga poses by the age of twenty-five; moving out of their parents’ basement before thirty; becoming vegans after having children; and running at least one marathon before they hit their mid-life crises. Chetty also evaluated the long-term effects of low-value-added teachers: Their graduates have been shown to hum along loudly—and off-key—to songs later in life. Those taught by teachers in the bottom quartile for two or more years will grow up to be “that guy,” according to Chetty. They stand on the left side of the escalator, tailgate, read US Weekly, watch Toddlers and Tiaras, and like clowns. Teachers matter-doubters: Convinced yet?

Raj Chetty, Revisiting Teacher Value-Added: The Benefits Last a Lifetime (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, March 2012) .

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