| Aug 17, 2010
The fifth-graders at Broadous Elementary School in California come from the same world — the poorest corner of the San Fernando Valley, a Pacoima neighborhood framed by two freeways where some have lost friends to the stray bullets of rival gangs. Many are the sons and daughters of Latino immigrants who never finished high school, hard-working parents who keep a respectful distance and trust educators to do what's best.
The students study the same lessons. They are often on the same chapter of the same book.Yet year after year, one fifth-grade class learns far more than the other down the hall. The difference has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students or their parents. It's their teachers, report Jason Felch, Jason Song, and Doug Smith, who wrote this article in the Los Angeles Times. With Miguel Aguilar, students consistently have made striking gains on state standardized tests, according to their Times analysis.
In Los Angeles and across the country, education officials have long known of the often huge disparities among teachers. They've seen the indelible effects, for good and ill, on children. But rather than analyze and address these disparities, they have opted mostly to ignore them, the authors say. See their analysis of data used to estimate the effectiveness of teachers.