Teacher Effects in Early Grades

August 21, 2011

The effects teachers have on student achievement have been of great interest to education researchers and policy makes the last four decades. A recent study by Spyros Konstantopoulos, an associate professor of education at MSU, examined the persistence of teacher effects in early grades using several years of statewide data from Tennessee’s Project STAR.  In Teacher Effects in Early Grades: Evidence From a Randomized Study, Konstantopoulos found that teachers significantly affect reading and mathematics achievement not only in the current or the following grade, but in subsequent grades as well. Students who had very effective teachers from kindergarten through second grade had a significant achievement advantage in third grade. The achievement benefit was about one-third of a standard deviation in third grade reading – nearly one third to one-half of a year’s growth in third grade achievement. These effects are substantial in education and comparable to achievement gains caused by the cumulative effects of small classes in early grades found in Project STAR data. These findings highlight the impact effective teachers in early grades can have on future student success. The study is published in Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 7, 2011, p. 1541-1565.