5. Better teachers matter, even more than you might think.
Having a “better teacher” for even just one year, as measured by the somewhat controversial “value-added” model, means a student is 1.8 times more likely to attend college; female students are 1.7 percent less likely to have a child as a teenager; and the net present value of students’ lifetime earnings is nearly $6,400 greater, the report claims.
6. Some charter schools show dramatic improvements in student achievement and might offer lessons for the broader education community.
Charter schools can serve as models for public school systems, the report says, because they have more room to innovate and can experiment with what works. For instance, results from the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Knowledge Is Power Program—both charter programs—show declines in racial achievement gaps. The report notes that results can be inconsistent, though, and researchers are currently examining what practices make charter schools successful and how public schools can apply those practices in their own environments.
7. Small-scale interventions also present opportunities for raising student achievement.
Big changes often receive the most attention, but smaller changes can have a large impact in the classroom as well, the report notes. Some of those changes include incentivizing students to read, moving schools to a K-8 structure to improve test scores among middle school students, having later start times, running after-school enrichment programs, and having smaller class sizes.
8. More information and greater transparency in our education system could go a long way toward improving outcomes.
Better access to more information could help economically disadvantaged students finish high school and apply to college, the report says. Less-complicated financial aid applications and processes could encourage more students to apply for aid.