We’ve all had teachers who’ve inspired us along our way. One of my favorites was my mother who was an assistant in second grade for years.
So how important is a teacher in your overall earnings success?
Some Harvard researchers decided to try to find out.
They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who were part of a Tennessee experiment in the 1980s called the STAR program. They looked at those children then and now by comparing their tax records.
What they found is that teachers have a huge impact on how much students earn later in life. That test scores early on in a child’s life can be reflective of how well they will do later and that the smaller the class size the better the student also does later in life.
That some teachers are more valuable than others. In particular students who learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go onto college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents, more likely to be saving for retirement and they were earning more.
Here’s an example:
“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.”
I thought this was the most interesting finding, overall the study says that one quality kindergarten teacher who only has 20 students is worth $240,000 a year.