Everyone wants to fix our schools. There’s only one problem: No one knows what works.
A compilation of education research by the Education Writers Association comes to the conclusion that there really aren’t any solid conclusions about education reform.
Teacher quality has been the political flavor this year in Michigan, with legislation aimed at weeding out our worst teachers and rewarding the best adopted by the Legislature. Who could argue with that?
But research indicates that teachers probably account for less than 10 percent of student variation in standardized test achievement. Having a great teacher can boost student achievement, but research is inconclusive as to whether those gains continue when the student moves on to other grades.
In fact, all school factors combined are estimated to only account for 40 percent of student variation.
Of greatest impact on a child’s school performance are factors outside the control of schools: parental income and education levels.
So here’s a contrarian suggestion to fix our schools: Fix the parents first.
Could it be that the most effective education reform in which the state could invest would assist parents to further their own educations? More education generally means bigger paychecks. And higher parental education and income are associated with greater student achievement.