Maybe, you did learn everything you needed to know in kindergarten — if you had a strong teacher

 A new study suggests the benefits of quality kindergarten are much greater and far-reaching that believed.

A new study suggests the benefits of quality kindergarten are much greater and far-reaching than we knew.

In response to Atlanta attorney Emmet Bondurant’s controversial opinion piece calling for a greater slice of the lottery funds for pre-k and less for HOPE, many posters countered that early childhood education is a waste of money. After reading the more than 200 comments, Bondurant plans a response to his critics, but I thought this New York Times column also addresses many of the points he made.

The column by David Leonhardt also speaks to two issues that come up here a lot: the value of education and the importance of teacher quality. Posters often disagree that we ought to be directing more Georgia teens to college, arguing that kids can do quite well without advanced education and that the value of a degree is slipping in this recession. Not so, says Leonhardt.

There’s also resistance on the blog to the notion that teacher quality matters and we need to improve the training of our teaching force. It does not help the profession or students to pretend otherwise by blaming all low achievement on inherent student deficiencies that cannot be overcome by teachers, no matter how dedicated or how talented.

I think this is a wonderful piece by Leonhardt:

How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life? Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade. By junior high and high school, children who had excellent early schooling do little better on tests than similar children who did not — which raises the demoralizing question of how much of a difference schools and teachers can make.

There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child’s health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, says: “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”

Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.

On Tuesday, Mr. Chetty presented the findings — not yet peer-reviewed — at an academic conference in Cambridge, Mass. They’re fairly explosive.

Just as in other studies, the Tennessee experiment found that some teachers were able to help students learn vastly more than other teachers. And just as in other studies, the effect largely disappeared by junior high, based on test scores. Yet when Mr. Chetty and his colleagues took another look at the students in adulthood, they discovered that the legacy of kindergarten had re-emerged.

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.

The economists don’t pretend to know the exact causes. But it’s not hard to come up with plausible guesses. Good early education can impart skills that last a lifetime — patience, discipline, manners, perseverance. The tests that 5-year-olds take may pick up these skills, even if later multiple-choice tests do not.

Now happens to be a particularly good time for a study like this. With the economy still terribly weak, many people are understandably unsure about the value of education. They see that even college graduates have lost their jobs in the recession.

Barely a week seems to go by without a newspaper or television station running a report suggesting that education is overrated. These stories quote liberal groups, like the Economic Policy Institute, that argue that an education can’t protect workers in today’s global economy. Or they quote conservatives, like Charles Murray and Ramesh Ponnuru, who suggest that people who haven’t graduated from college aren’t smart enough to do so.

But the anti-education case usually relies on a combination of anecdotes and selective facts. In truth, the gap between the pay of college graduates and everyone else grew to a record last year, according to the Labor Department, and unemployment has risen far more for the less educated.

This is not simply because smart people — people who would do well no matter what — tend to graduate from college. Education itself can make a difference. A long line of economic research, by Julie Berry Cullen, James Heckman, Philip Oreopoulos and many others, has found as much. The study by Mr. Chetty and his colleagues is the latest piece of evidence.

The crucial problem the study had to solve was the old causation-correlation problem. Are children who do well on kindergarten tests destined to do better in life, based on who they are? Or are their teacher and classmates changing them?

The Tennessee experiment, known as Project Star, offered a chance to answer these questions because it randomly assigned students to a kindergarten class. As a result, the classes had fairly similar socioeconomic mixes of students and could be expected to perform similarly on the tests given at the end of kindergarten.

Yet they didn’t. Some classes did far better than others. The differences were too big to be explained by randomness. (Similarly, when the researchers looked at entering and exiting test scores in first, second and third grades, they found that some classes made much more progress than others.)

Class size — which was the impetus of Project Star — evidently played some role. Classes with 13 to 17 students did better than classes with 22 to 25. Peers also seem to matter. In classes with a somewhat higher average socioeconomic status, all the students tended to do a little better.

But neither of these factors came close to explaining the variation in class performance. So another cause seemed to be the explanation: teachers.

Some are highly effective. Some are not. And the differences can affect students for years to come.

When I asked Douglas Staiger, a Dartmouth economist who studies education, what he thought of the new paper, he called it fascinating and potentially important. “The worry has been that education didn’t translate into earnings,” Mr. Staiger said. “But this is telling us that it does and that the fade-out effect is misleading in some sense.”

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. 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.

Given today’s budget pressures, finding the money for any new programs will be difficult. But that’s all the more reason to focus our scarce resources on investments whose benefits won’t simply fade away.

81 comments Add your comment

Carter is a Fool

July 28th, 2010
9:13 pm

DON’T WASTE ANY MORE MONEY on Funded Daycare. Pre-K is a JOKE. Have you read the learning standards. These should be taught at home.

Don’t waste the funds. Invest them in those going to college or training for a job.


Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2010
9:48 pm

We have to find a way to evaluate teachers. And test scores need to be a part of the evaluation (comparing beginning of the year scores to end of the year scores –NOT comparing this year’s class to last year’s class). And surely there needs to be a subjective component to the evaluation. ALL professionals are reviewed by superiors who may or may not like them, may or may not be competent, it’s life. So, how do the teachers on this blog want to be evaluated?


July 28th, 2010
9:55 pm

Hooray for kindergarten teachers!

Stop LYING Maureen!

July 28th, 2010
10:04 pm

Until the blog filter releases my post, let’s just ask has ANYONE ever said on this blog “teacher quality doesn’t matter”? Ever?

While there have seen statements that say teacher quality isn’t the SOLE DETERMINING FACTOR, that is NOT the same as saying “teacher quality doesn’t matter,” and it’s intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.

The blog moderator has hit a new low.

Atlanta mom's logic?

July 28th, 2010
10:15 pm

So according to your logic Atlanta mom, because there are incompetent supervisors in private enterprise evaluating employees with little to know recourse for the employee, teachers should be evaluated the exact same way?

In many private enterprise situations, when a person being managed continually refuses to do their job, and disrupts others who are trying to do their jobs, the manager, to increase productivity as a whole, is allowed to fire the employee.

If you are going to judge the teacher like you would a manager, on the results of the group, will you also allow the teacher to remove the disrupters who hold back the group, like a manager is frequently allowed to do?


July 28th, 2010
10:16 pm

I had the best kindergarten teacher in the world. I went to E C Clement Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia. Her name was Mrs. E E Knox. She helped me develop a love for education and a love my our country. She taught us the song, God Bless America. I went to an Ivy League University. My parents and older sisters also exposed me to learning. We had no computers, but we had lots of books. Each night we watched the news and discussed the events of the day. Mrs. Knox was a blessing and helped inspire me to become an educator. An excellent teacher really does touch the world. She also introduced me to the best cookies in the world.

NWGA teacher

July 28th, 2010
10:18 pm

“There’s also resistance on the blog to the notion that teacher quality matters and we need to improve the training of our teaching force.”

I haven’t seen resistance to the notion that teacher quality matters, nor to the notion that we need to improve training. Of course teacher quality matters; teacher quality, overall school quality, curriculum quality, peer quality, leadership quality . . . in addition to all the other facets of students’ lives — it ALL matters. However, there’s plenty of resistance to the notion that huge numbers of us are inadequate, uncaring and lazy. As for improving training: most of us want and welcome professional development. The QUALITY of additional training, however, certainly impacts improvement. Forcing teachers to sit through the same tired, old workshop three times in one year, the same workshop that we sat through twice last year, is not exactly the last word in quality training. If there’s no paper for the copy machine, no ink for the grade level printer, the classroom computers are broken, the projector hasn’t worked for two months, most of the students own neither paper nor pencils, and we don’t have classroom sets of books, let there be no doubt whether effective teaching has been negatively impacted. I can provide the paper and pencils, but that’s about it; my pay cuts have taken away any money I could have spent on the classroom. We are teachers. We should not be expected to be miracle workers. THAT is what most of us resent.


July 28th, 2010
10:20 pm

Thank you, I was just about to say the same thing. Student achievement is tied to teacher performance, but it’s also tied to a whole host of other things a teacher has no control over, things like the level of poverty in the home, the level of education of the parents, the transiency of the student, what early exposure to reading and math the student received, etc. To imply that teachers on here, including me, have said that teacher quality doesn’t matter is insulting.

I’ve stated before what I think is appropriate teacher evaluation. Do my lessons tie into the curriculum, do they use best practices (in my case, little lecture and more student involvement since I’m early elementary), do I have good classroom management skills. In other words, am I fulfilling my part of the equation. I also think that some of the evaluation should occur not only by the administrator in my building, but also by an administrator from a neighboring school. (I realize that this is easier to implement in metro Atlanta where you can spit and hit five elementaries, but it could be doable in rural areas as well.) That way, if your principal is out to get you, their evaluation would be balanced by the evaluation of a neutral party.

Just a thought.

Who's really lying

July 28th, 2010
10:20 pm

I am a parent, not a teacher . This is my first response on this blog. I get depressed reading the constant comments from teachers about how bad their students are and how terrible the parents are. There is too much blaming the students and the parents on this blog. Teachers don’t want to see faults in themselves. They would rather blame parents. I do all I can to help my children. They have had some very caring teachers. But there are bad teachers. Get over it.


July 28th, 2010
10:21 pm

Lost in the filter!! Can it go on a trip to the beach for a couple of days? :)

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2010
10:32 pm

@atlanta mom’s logic
I have heard repeatedly on this blog that teachers do not wanted to be evaluated based on test scores or incompetent administrator’s evaluations. I am asking how do they want to be evaluated? I also want to make the point that we all get unfair evaluations at one time or another. It’s life.

@ who's really lying

July 28th, 2010
10:32 pm

One question who’s really lying: when a student comes to school and frequently engages in anti-social, disruptive behavior, but the rest of his peers in the class, in the exact same room, with the exact same teacher, do not engage in any of those behaviors, where exactly do you think the fault lies?

Atlanta mom's logic?

July 28th, 2010
10:39 pm

Atlanta mom, what I think teachers would want is a system of checks and balances, and a legitimate appeals process that would protect them from retaliatory misuse of the evaluation instrument.

This would actually benefit students in that if teachers could truly speak out on issues of educational concern, without constant fear of administrative retaliation, it would benefit education as a whole. And if an administrator is doing their job in a fair competent manner, why would any administrator oppose this?

NWGA teacher

July 28th, 2010
10:40 pm

@ Who’s really lying: I’m a parent, also. My child has had one bad teacher (in a middle school class). It was difficult for me to ensure that she learned everything she needed before CRCT.

There are many caring, involved parents, but there are many more who believe that education is Not Their Job. I have an example in my own family. My cousin threatened to sue the school because her children read below grade level. There are no books in her home, the TV is on from the time they walk through the door until they go to bed, the children do not turn in homework, and my cousin refuses to schedule conferences. After all, it’s not her job. Some teachers end up with 20 sets of these parents in one class.

Stop LYING Maureen!

July 28th, 2010
10:42 pm

Again, can anybody point to a single quote where someone said “teacher quality doesn’t matter”? Can anybody point to a single quote where someone said you can blame ALL low achievement on inherent student deficiencies?


July 28th, 2010
10:45 pm

I was a kindergarten dropout.

Really, I was, but I was reading before I ever started kindergarten.

And Carter is a Fool, you’re right, the things that are taught in Pre-K *should* be taught at home. We have Pre-K because in too many cases, they *aren’t*. The good news is, Pre-K isn’t required, so you don’t have to send your kids if they don’t need it. Leave it for the kids who DO need it.

NWGA teacher

July 28th, 2010
11:01 pm

I didn’t go to kindergarten. Back then, in the Dark Ages, kindergartens were private. We couldn’t afford it. My mother taught me to read and write at home; she went to the library, found everything she could about early literacy, and made workbooks for me. Then, when I began first grade, the teacher told her that she had “ruined” me by teaching me at home. She also lead the class in laughing at me because I didn’t understand the difference between writing my name and spelling my name (aloud). And they think WE are bad teachers.

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2010
11:05 pm

First of all, I’d like to repeat what Educator2 had to say “hooray for kindergarten teachers”. For sure, for sure.

I would agree that all professionals would like to be able to appeal a performance review. A lot of time this is done simply by signing a statement at the end of the review, either you agree with the review, or you don’t. An administrator who turns in too many “don’t agree” should be reviewed. But no one has a right to a job. Many of us have to change jobs because of a bad boss. And if economic hard times, many of us stay at a job with a bad boss, because we have no choice.

William Casey

July 28th, 2010
11:24 pm

Too many parents view education as glorified baby sitting. Attitude toward schooling is something that’s passed down from parent to child. Too many children have at least one “parent” (in the biological sense) uninvolved in the child’s upbringing.

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2010
11:31 pm

I don’t think many parents view education as glorified babysitting. Pre-k maybe, but after that, I disagree.

Atlanta mom

July 28th, 2010
11:40 pm

This is a fascinating study. To my mind, unusual results.
I wish it could address the pre-k situation. I have accepted the studies that show that pre-k improves student performance for a few years and then the effect levels off. Perhaps I need to rethink government pre-k.


July 29th, 2010
2:12 am

True incident: Parent is called by school nurse at 9 AM because child is runnng a high fever. Parent response: “Can’t my child lie down in a corner of the classroom? I have errands to run, I can’t come pick her up. She can take the bus home.” Would this qualify as babysitting? (not to mention neglect on the parent’s part) Amazing how many kids are sent to school sick, and even more amazing how many parents cop an attitude if they are then called by the school nurse or teacher.

witchey woman

July 29th, 2010
2:31 am

“Class size — which was the impetus of Project Star — evidently played some role. Classes with 13 to 17 students did better than classes with 22 to 25. Peers also seem to matter. In classes with a somewhat higher average socioeconomic status, all the students tended to do a little better.”

Maybe these two factors correlate with high student achievement. This article did not elaborate how they came to the conclusion that increased student achievemnt was mainly due to high teacher quality. What standards did they use to determine teacher quality? Research shows that high socio-economic status usually determines a student’s success in school. I know there are some exceptions (I am one of them) but what determines academic success are the parents and their attitude towards learning. This study is not fascinating, it’s just another sensationalized ($320K is attention grabbing)piece of propaganda for Race to the Top. I just want to address a myth; Teachers are evaluated by their adminstators and union teachers can be fired.


July 29th, 2010
2:38 am

It is not strictly teacher quality- again teacher quality given the students she is assigned. Success can happen when we are willing to view teacher quality in conjunction with student comittment and behaviors. You cannot have one without the other. How we gain comittment and participation from student is the issue. You cannot raise the standards and pander to parent’s wishes for A’s and B’s at the same time. The standard is there for a reason- and everyone will not meet it. We do however have to consider all influences on the learning atmosphere. Teacher quality alone is not the primary issue as “Johnny” has to come with something to work with and a willingness to do so.


July 29th, 2010
6:23 am

I agree with Atlanta Mom: Evaluations are a part of life. Now how much test scores count should be debated? I teach social studies and we get the least support of all the subjects. Our test is given on the last day of testing after the students have taken the test that determines if they’ll be retained (Math and reading). Students are also usually wiped out mentally and in some cases emotionally at that point. I’ve heard good students say “it doesn’t matter if I pass social studies because it doesn’t count.” Don’t tell me my job or income is going to be held in the balance by a test them many if not most of my students don’t take seriously because “it doesn’t count.” What I would like to see is all tests count for retention just like passing all classes counts toward retention. I would also like to see the CRCT given at the beginning of the school year (pre-test) and again at the end of the year preferably in the last two weeks of school (post-test). We could then measure for growth and look at meeting or exceeding standards. Using a test scores alone to determine a teacher’s proficiency is wrong especially if students don’t believe the test counts, it is given before your entire curriculum has been taught, and if we don’t look at growth.
Look at Cobb county’s scores which schools typically have no problem meeting AYP, which schools can’t seem to meet AYP now what areas of the county are these schools in? See any correlation? Does anyone think upbringing, income and parent involvement have anything to do with a student’s success? Well we rotate the faculty from the Dodgen, and Dickerson to Campbell and Tapp. After all teachers are the only factor in a student’s success?


July 29th, 2010
6:29 am

I’m a retired educator and teachers are always blaming parents. Now, tell me I’m lying!

Happy Teacher

July 29th, 2010
6:30 am

Resistance to the idea Maureen? Of what do you speak? :-)


July 29th, 2010
6:33 am

Mothers blame dads! Now, tell me I’m lying.

We are teachers guys, STOP blaming our challenges on parents, proverty and discipline.

East Cobb Parent

July 29th, 2010
7:20 am

To NWGA Teacher, my son had a similar experience in K and 2nd grade, so those type teachers still exist. As in any profession, there are good and bad teachers, some teachers are better suited for teaching LD or gifted, or reading etc. With all the political correctness mandates society expects a teacher to do it all, yes even compensate for poor parenting. Not ALL parents treat school as babysitters but quite a few do. I’ve heard many East Cobb mom say that little Johnny took motrin and went to school because she had a tennis match. My personal experience is mixed with pre-k and K. I have one child that never attended pre-K and had an awesome year in K. I have one that attended pre-K and a terrible year in K. Teacher made remarks similar to what NWGA Teacher mentioned. I think we must raise expectations and hold parents, teachers, and students accountable.


July 29th, 2010
7:25 am

Wait for it, wait for it….

“Mr. Chetty and his colleagues … estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year.”

There it is. It is always about more money for education for most of these so-called “researchers.”

If you really wanted to improve education, how about eliminating the idiots from breeding like rabbits. That’s what pre-k is all about anyway, trying to house train the “at risk” students to get them ready for first grade.

Concerned 1

July 29th, 2010
9:07 am

If Dr. 1 has 10 patients to die per 100 at the end of the month and Dr. 2 has 20 to die per 100, do you pay Dr. 1 more? Suppose Dr. 2 has primarily patients who have neglected their health and are older, obese and coming into the emergency room with more cardiac arrests. See how you have to check the situation out. Why won’t people understand that Johnnies and Susies do not start on a level playing field. Of you want to hold teacher’s accountable for end results on a test then you must have the same standardized state or national pre-test that you give to all students at the beginning of the year. Then and only then can you begin to guage what obstacles that individual teacher has to grapple with.

Concerned 1

July 29th, 2010
9:08 am

Correction: “if you want”


July 29th, 2010
9:12 am

What is a “quality teacher” and how do you propose we improve our teacher training?

The state legislator has slapped every Nationally Board certified teacher across the face. Our former state school superintendent and governor have stated that National Board certification isn’t important and doesn’t make a difference. Does anyone even know what happened to the governor’s Master Teacher program? We are told that advanced degrees really don’t matter (tell that to other countries that insist on a teaching force with a master’s degree). Professional development requirements for re-certification have been extended for 10 years. Any college graduate can get a teaching position in the state of GA and can teach up to five years on a provisional certificate (We have several alternatively certified teachers in our school that have taught three and four years before taking their FIRST teaching course).

Do I mind being held accountable? Absolutely not. I do want a fair system, common-sense program. I do think student achievement should play a part in that accountability. However, don’t penalize me if a student stays up all night playing video games before the EOCT and decides to finish the test in under 10 minutes. Don’t penalize me if the week of CRCT testing is also the week the parents decide to tell their child that they are divorcing. Don’t penalize me if the student is a chronic attendance problem and the juvenile court judge refuses to enforce his own truancy policy. Please don’t penalize me if the child has attended a menagerie of schools over the years as mom moves from boyfriend to boyfriend. Don’t penalize me because a hostile, angry young man who beat up his mother was told by a judge that not attending school would violate his probation. I’ve had to deal with all these situations. I don’t give up on these students and I really do try to help them. I have and do make a difference in the lives of these students. However, this may or may not be reflected in a test score or a 20 minute classroom observation.


July 29th, 2010
9:13 am

The importance of teacher quality has been known for years. The first reports for Project STAR found several important factors related to student learning and teacher quality. One of the most alarming findings from the study related to teacher quality was that if a child was placed two years in a row with poor quality teachers, the child would NEVER recover from the deficit.

There has been no resistance from this blog audience (save one highly repitious and obnoxious voice) with regard to the importance of teacher quality. The resistances expressed in this forum usually have more to do with the insane reactions from politicians and administrators that focus solely on teachers rather than examining the whole picture of student learning. To simply blame and point fingers at teachers, as is frequently done, is to ignore some of the true issues that interfere with student learning and success.

Regarding evaluations and accountability for teachers, most educators I know are fine with being accountable. What we are not okay with is the imposition of meaningless absolutes related to student achievement. The truth is (whether you like it or not) schools can not control all the factors that affect students’ learning. We can control what happens in the classroom and we must be diligent to use the time with students most effectively.

In business, one truth remains that educators simply can not implement. We can not reject “inferior” raw material. We must take each child that comes to us and do our best to make sure that child learns. This is why absolute measures of student performance are irrelevant and why we need tools that measure student growth in learning.

So, while you guys continue to debate “pie in the sky” ideals, the rest of us will remain in the real world of education. We will work each day to make a difference in the lives of the children who come to us. We will work to make our classrooms even better than before. Everyone of us who teaches will continue to carry out the mission of our calling in the very best way possible given the limits of our various situations.


July 29th, 2010
9:19 am

Does pre-K matter? If you read to your preschooler on a regular basis, provide them pencils, crayons, coloring books, blocks, puzzles, and teach them manners and self-control, then they don’t need pre-K. Chances are if you read or post on this blog, you do the above. Not every child has this advantage and pre-K does help them. It helps, but it doesn’t level the playing field.

There are no absolutes

July 29th, 2010
9:20 am

As usual, many of the bloggers have taken a point of view to the extreme by saying teachers blame parents, etc. Of course these venues are designed to elicit uneducated responses that in turn foster yet more dialogue from those with righteous indignation. This is the moderator’s job. Throw in an outrageous statement or two and sit back to watch the fireworks from the usual suspects.

Teachers do not blame ALL parents, just a significant portion of them. Given the current climate with shifting most of the blame on teachers to do miracles with their class each and every year regardless of the class makeup while also piling on more and more bureaucratic busy work, teachers are going to start pointing fingers at everyone else involved to make sure they realize it’s a team effort. Tie unreasonable expectations to not only tie our pay, but literally their future careers to bad policy and they are going to darn well speak up.

Teachers may not be alone in dealing with workplace politics, etc, but name a profession that’s more important to our culture and therefore needs to be a stable, positive environment for all concerned?


July 29th, 2010
9:21 am

caught in the filter….and Tony–you expressed what I’m feeling this morning much more eloquently than I ever could.

Teacher Reader

July 29th, 2010
9:32 am

Everything I learned in kindergarten, I learned from my parents.

I do not understand why we are not putting pressure on parents to be better parents and only putting pressure on getting better teachers. Good teachers and intelligent teachers will never go into teaching, as long as teachers get all of the blame for children not being educated or receiving a quality education. As a teacher, I was only as effective as my principal and administration allowed me to be. As a teacher, I was only effective to children who came to school wanting an education.

From what I have seen of pre-K here and in other states, is that what is “taught” should be taught at home. The problem is that too many people want the government, our schools, etc to do their job as a parent. What children learn in pre-K are manners, sharing, taking turns, playing nice, sitting still, etc. This should be learned at home by our children.

Oh Well

July 29th, 2010
10:03 am

@Carter is a Fool “Pre-K is a JOKE. Have you read the learning standards. These should be taught at home.”

I have two children…one went to a CA pre-school and the other a GA pre-K. Both received the necessary skills needed for success in school, of course that was also echoed at home in addition to other enrichment activities and experiences.

Do I wish that I could have stayed home and taught them myself? Sure…but alas – I have to work to make ends meet.

To me, “pre-school” is “pre-K”…is prep and readiness for school. Some parents use the experience to build upon…others do not.

Oh Well

July 29th, 2010
10:17 am

@Teacher Reader “The problem is that too many people want the government, our schools, etc to do their job as a parent. What children learn in pre-K are manners, sharing, taking turns, playing nice, sitting still, etc. This should be learned at home by our children.”

Again – for some of us, staying at home is not an option. However, it doesn’t mean that we all just willing hand over the job of parenting to the “government”. There are people who parent and people who do not – no matter if they hold jobs or are stay at home.

I’ve seen children who were at home until kindergarten fail to be taught manners, etc. from at-home parents…

Concerned 1

July 29th, 2010
10:17 am

And so we return to the trenches, bombarded on all sides. I have four degrees related to teaching and I am a life long learner. I am devoted to the profession and I will do everything I can to educate your child and provide them with a wonderful learning experience. I am just a teacher.

Warrior Woman

July 29th, 2010
10:41 am

Just a couple of points. 1) There is no evidence that the outcomes found in Chetty’s study are applicable to pre-K, or even broadly to kindergarten. 2) Most pre-K is a joke – nothing more than babysitting, and often less.


July 29th, 2010
11:00 am

The article was supposed to be about the effect of very early childhood education on lifetime achievement. Why do the comments on this blog seem to veer toward whether parents or teachers are “to blame” for bureaucratically unacceptable test scores and outcomes in GA, regardless of the introduced topic?

What about a partnership between parents/guardians and teachers where parents spend time in the classroom or afterschool as volunteers. Parents can help by being an extra pair of eyes in the classroom and perform simple tasks, whether that is reading aloud to them, being available for homework help, or preparing classroom materials. Here’s what I have seen happen in this type of environment – kids whose parents volunteer even a day a month tend to be better behaved, more engaged, more responsible and parents tend to better understand the challenges of the classroom and become more supportive of teachers. And who among teachers could not use a hand now and then and a supporter in his or her corner?

In the cases I saw, performance of engaged children (whose parents volunteer)improved (duh, they are paying attention and getting their homework done), then more parents wanted to participate.

Another thing I noticed in these types of settings – an invitation isn’t always enough. Plenty of parents of all educational levels, but particularly lower education, feel intimidated to enter a classroom. Present this as an expectation (but not a requirement) and an invitation tailored to the teacher’s needs. Such as “Welcome to ABC Elementary School. I’m looking forward to a great year with your child and welcome your support in the classroom. Below is a list of activities/tasks I need help with this year to give our class the best education possible. Please mark the activities you can help with once a month and I will contact you to set a date and time when you can help.”

It doesn’t take much training to help with simple tasks, mostly parents just need to learn to stay on task (!) and not focus on their own kids. Where I’ve seen this type of program, usually a careful explanation from the teacher of the task and the focus are enough.


July 29th, 2010
11:39 am

I’m back in the filter, again (to the tune of “back in the saddle, again”)

Teacher Reader

July 29th, 2010
11:46 am

Pre-K teachers are not the best teachers in the school. Principals must put the teachers with the least amount of experience because they are the cheapest to pay. Many of the teachers teaching pre-k do not have an early childhood background, but an elementary background and have aspirations to teach older children.

Parents need to take more responsibility for their children. I don’t care if they work or stay home, I see too many parents not willing to do the difficult job of being a parent.


July 29th, 2010
11:47 am

@Atlanta Mom….

When I was teaching remedial reading I was evaluated by the PROGRESS made by my students…NOT by how high their test scores were. This was done by pre-testing in Aug. and post testing [after instruction] in May. Thus, if a 7th grade student arrived in my class reading on a 4th grade level and left my class reading on a 6th grade level, ..although still below grade level…. I would be thrilled.

I always felt that this was absolutely the only way I ever wanted to be evaluated and am perfectly willing to be accountable for my students PROGRESS. So, even though the DCSS did not do this kind of evaluation in regular classrooms, I did it myself in order to gauge how I was doing.
My colleagues and I tried and tried to Ms. Cox to listen to us to no avail.

Although once when the Sec. of Ed was in Atlanta,I contacted one of the AJC reporters who was going to be able to ask her questions and he did ask about the progress measure. Believe it or not, she said she was aware that would be a better way….and they were working on it. THAT WAS 8 YEARS AGO!!!!

Stop LYING Maureen!

July 29th, 2010
12:09 pm

“Resistance to the idea Maureen? Of what do you speak? :-)

And of course add Happy Teacher to the list of shills that can’t produce a single quote that says “teacher quality doesn’t matter”

Stop LYING Maureen!

July 29th, 2010
12:23 pm

Tony please produce a quote when someone said teacher quality doesn’t matter or that ALL low achievement is because of inherent student deficiencies that teachers can’t overcome.

What people HAVE pointed out is that teacher quality isn’t the SOLE DETERMINING FACTOR, and what people have pointed out is that this blog has NEVER ONCE, discussed how administrators can exacerbate discipline problems in the classroom and the school by creating an environment of second guessing and not supporting the teacher in holding students accountable.

Can administrators exacerbate discipline problems by not supporting teachers Tony, agree or disagree?

| Black Label Toys

July 29th, 2010
12:48 pm

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


July 29th, 2010
1:17 pm

Big old OUCH! Ms. Downey!

“There’s also resistance on the blog to the notion that teacher quality matters” I guess I have not been reading the same blog you are. I have NEVEr heard it posited here that teacher quality DOES NOT MATTER. What posters have said that it is not THE MOST IMPORTANT variable, and it isn’t.

“many posters countered that early childhood education is a waste of money. ” Again, that is NOT what posters said. They contended that preK is free babysitting. Pre K does not encompass all of early childhood education! Posters have taken issue with the provision of pre K for parents who can afford child care, and with the pre K curriculum.

“t does not help the profession or students to pretend otherwise by blaming all low achievement on inherent student deficiencies that cannot be overcome by teachers, no matter how dedicated or how talented.” ALL low achievement has not been blamed on student deficiencies; however, in this blog many have pointed out that even the most talented and dedicated teacher is swimming upstream when confronted with undisciplined, unmotivated students whose parents seem to be uninterested and unsupportive of the student and schools. Can teachers help students? I’d sure hope so; otherwise why would we try to do this work (I know, for the insurance and getting “paid summers off.”) I would not be able to do what I do if I didn’t think I could help even the most neglected student. But work miracles? Only sometimes.

I am very surprised at any reputable national conference admitting something that had not been accepted by a peer reviewed journal. Please share the name of the conference here. I also look forward to reading this paper, as it confirms what I believe: that what can be tested is not the most important part of what we do. (I’d also like a close look at the methodology, of course.)

For those of my colleagues who nay-say the importance of postsecondary ed, I ask that they read “How College Affects Students” by Pascarella and Terenzini. It’s a meta-analysis of college effects studies, and it points out the desirable LONG TERM effects of college attendance (thinks like better health, more civic engagement, etc.) It’s a tome (As I remember 1000 pgs plus) and 20 years old but puts to bed the myth what we can test is all there is in terms of effects of education on a person’s life.)

Finally, please let Mr. Bondurant take out an ad in the AJC to express his opinions, rather than giving him more free air time. And please be sure to accurately reflect what your blog responders are writing. Maybe I am hypersensitive today, but it seems like you missed the generally high mark you set for yourself.