Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Poor quality teachers may prevent children from reaching reading potential, study finds

Date:
April 26, 2010
Source:
Florida State University
Summary:
When it comes to early reading, a bad teacher can prevent children from reaching their full potential. That's the finding of a new study that may put an end to a longstanding scholarly debate about the amount of influence teachers have on students' reading achievement.

When it comes to early reading, a bad teacher can prevent children from reaching their full potential.

Related Articles


That's the finding of a new Florida State University study published in the April 23 issue of the journal Science. The study may put an end to a longstanding scholarly debate about the amount of influence teachers have on students' reading achievement.

"Teachers have an effect on student reading achievement," said psychology Associate Professor Jeanette Taylor, the study's lead author. "Better teachers provide an environment that allows children to reach their potential."

Scholars know that genetics play the biggest role in a child's reading achievement, while the environment -- including the classroom experience -- plays a smaller role. This study is significant because it shows for the first time that teachers have a direct influence on the genetic variability among children.

"When children receive more effective instruction, they will tend to develop at their optimal trajectory," Taylor said. "When instruction is less effective, then children's learning potential is not optimized and genetic differences are left unrealized."

As state and national policy increasingly focuses on teacher quality, the effect that teachers have on the genetic foundation of reading is an important question. Taylor and her four co-authors, all Florida State researchers, addressed the question by examining data from identical and fraternal twins taking part in the Florida Twin Project on Reading. Identical twins share all of their genes while fraternal twins share, on average, half of their genes, so comparing them gives researchers a way to infer how much of the variability in reading achievement is because of genetic versus environmental influences.

The researchers studied 280 identical and 526 fraternal twin pairs in the first and second grades from Florida schools representing diverse environments. Using the scores of the twins' Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) test, which assesses reading skill, they estimated how much of the variability in reading was due to genetic factors. Then they used the test scores of the twins' classmates to create a measure of teacher quality.

If the end-of-the-year test scores showed the entire classroom of students made gains in reading achievement beyond expectations based on their scores at the beginning of the year, the researchers attributed the gain to a high-quality teacher. Conversely, the researchers assumed classrooms with lower gains had poor quality teachers. They did not include the twins in these calculations so that their teachers' quality scores were independent of the twins' achievement.

"We can essentially rank teachers in terms of the benefit to students' learning from being in a particular teacher's classroom in comparison to the average amount of gain seen in a particular grade," said Alysia Roehrig, an assistant professor in the College of Education and one of the study's co-authors.

The authors cautioned that other factors, such as classmates, resources and the physical classroom itself, might also influence the level of reading achievement among young students. However, this study clearly underscores the importance of teachers.

"Putting high quality teachers in the classroom will not eliminate variability among students nor guarantee equally high achievement from all children, but ignoring teachers as a salient contributor to the classroom environment represents a missed opportunity to promote children's potential in school and their success in life," the researchers concluded.

In addition to Taylor and Roehrig, the study's co-authors are Brooke Soden-Hensler, a psychology graduate student; Carol McDonald Connor, an associate professor of psychology; and Christopher Schatschneider, professor of psychology and associate director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Taylor, A. D. Roehrig, B. S. Hensler, C. M. Connor, C. Schatschneider. Teacher Quality Moderates the Genetic Effects on Early Reading. Science, 2010; 328 (5977): 512 DOI: 10.1126/science.1186149

Cite This Page:

Florida State University. "Poor quality teachers may prevent children from reaching reading potential, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153804.htm>.
Florida State University. (2010, April 26). Poor quality teachers may prevent children from reaching reading potential, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153804.htm
Florida State University. "Poor quality teachers may prevent children from reaching reading potential, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153804.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins