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For Teachers, Experience Does Matter

Plainville social studies speciaist Jennifer Murrihy works with fifth-grade students.

Plainville social studies specialist Jennifer Murrihy works with fifth-grade students.

Contrary to claims by some in the education world that teachers don’t improve much after their first few years in the profession, recent studies are showing that teachers’ ability to help students achieve increases over at least the first decade of their careers.

Teachers with more years of experience in the classroom were even found to be linked with unexpected factors such as decreased rates of student absenteeism.

Education Week reports,

Although the studies raise numerous questions for follow-up, the researchers say it may be time to retire the received—and somewhat counterintuitive—wisdom that teachers can’t or don’t improve much after their first few years on the job.

“For some reason, you hear this all the time, from all sorts of people, Bill Gates on down,” said John P. Papay, an assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. He is the co-author of one of two new studies on the topic. “But teacher quality is not something that’s fixed. It does develop, and if you’re making a decision about a teacher’s career, you should be looking at that dynamic.”

Read the entire Education Week article here.

One Comment
  1. lstableford #

    Let me ask some questions. Does a first year doctor recognize completely all the factors that might impact his/her patient’s complaints and thereby make the correct prescriptive call? Does a first year litigation lawyer have the capacity to effectively take on a case, such as a suit involving a client who is suing a corporation for damages, from start to finish? Can a professional police officer or fireman, right after passing all the rigorous assessments and physical tests, be expected to become thoroughly immersed in making all the correct decisions with respect to capturing a fugitive or fighting a major two alarm fire?

    Of course, one might say that the answer to the above questions is an emphatic “Yes!” But, that would be quite unrealistic. Would one rather, given the need and choice, want to go to a doctor with a few years of experience or one that has five or more years in. Would one want to go to a more experienced lawyer over a neophyte to deal with a suit against a corporation. Would one be confident in the policeman or fireman who has worked in your neighborhood for sometime over one who has just arrived on the scene.

    My guess is that all of us would be much more comfortable with those professionals who have several years of experience under their belts. This is not to disparage those just entering the profession for the first time. Their substantial training, testing, and practical in the field experiences prior to obtaining collegiate degree or graduating from required training academies allows these successful candidates to enter their chosen professions. But, certainly one has to concede that the initial years of experience, with the all the supports in place (mentoring, additional classes, and training) will be invaluable in making that brand new teacher, lawyer, doctor, police officer, fireman better and better at their job.

    March 25, 2015

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