Teachers who teach within an area of expertise are more likely to produce students who graduate university.
High school students taught by a succession of teachers who specialised in teaching a subject, instead of holding a general teaching degree consistently did better. While it is ideal, the practicalities of attracting staff that fits the profile is another problem altogether.
A longitudinal data set collected from more than 6,000 students and their teachers was investigated and it was found that students who were taught by a succession of teachers who majored or minored in mathematics had better success in short-term math achievement and the students also were more likely to graduate from college.
"Teacher quality is the most influential factor that determines student success," Se Woong Lee, an assistant professor in the College of Education University Missouri who produced the research said.
"If students are taught by a string of under qualified and underperforming teachers, it limits academic potential. However, highly qualified teachers are more likely to expand students' desires to learn and succeed."
Schools might increase their number of highly qualified teachers by changing the hiring process to specifically seek teachers with a background or in the courses they would be teaching.
For example, a school seeking a literature teacher would look to prioritise applicants who majored in English in college.
The quality of teaching is aided by the sharing of student data and performance from teacher to teacher across years. Teachers with previous experience of a student can share their insights with the student’s next teacher.
Lee said; "If we develop a system where the focus is on student development and learning over time, then we're helping to give equal opportunities to students within a school and being fair to our teachers at the same time."