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What Effect Does a Bad Teacher Have on Students?

Teachers who are not effective in the classroom have a have a significant effect on the learning process — and not in a good way. According to a study conducted jointly by economists at Harvard and Columbia universities, the overall effect of a bad teacher is similar to fourth-grade students missing 40 percent of the school year. Other studies indicate that a good teacher can lead to gains in the learning process that will have lasting effects. Poor teaching over the course of several years can cause students to be unprepared for college attendance, if they even have any desire to pursue a degree.

More on the impact of teachers:

  • According to a study conducted by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System in the United States, students who are taught by poor teachers for three consecutive school years exhibit an average achievement gain of 29 percent. By contrast, students who have competent teachers for three years in a row exhibit an average achievement gain of 83 percent.

  • Encountering a good teacher in the fourth grade increases the chances of students eventually attending college by 1.25 percent, and it helps reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy by roughly the same percentage.

  • Students who have good teachers consistently from the fourth grade onward are likely to earn a higher incomes per year during their adult years than students who struggle through with below-average teachers. According to the Harvard study, the quality of teaching can lead to earning an extra $25,000 US Dollars during a student's lifetime.

Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon300373 — On Oct 29, 2012

My son is now in high school but the problem with teachers started in kindergarten. She would call him fat and tell him that everyone was scared of him and didn't want to be his friend. She would even sit him at a table all alone instead of addressing the problem that certain kids were teasing him.

My son has a learning disability and mood disorders and hates school to this day. He hasn't had many teachers who showed him that school could be fun and that he could be more than a child with a problem. Therefore, we struggle keeping him in his sophomore year because he has no tolerance for poor teachers.

It would have been nice to have a good teacher so maybe my would have turned out different than what he is today. It is very sad that for some teachers, it has become a small paycheck rather than the will to want to help kids.

By anon273629 — On Jun 07, 2012

Unfortunately, I have to say that I know firsthand what you are talking about. My daughter who also was in pre-k was subject to the teacher bullying her as your son was.

I provided the school with tools and skills to help the teacher run her class successfully, but the teacher did not follow any of them. The teacher was almost at the end of the school and grabbed my daughter by the arm and punished her when it was established by the school administrator that the assistants where the only ones who could call my daughter's attention. The worst part it was because my daughter did not understand what the teacher said (we will drink water in the classroom) and went to drink water at the fountain that was right there next to her.

I have been with psychologists, occupational therapists and I even took my daughter to the best neurologist and all three told me that my daughter was able to attend a regular school besides the mild challenges she has (a mild learning disability) that make it hard for her to learn as quickly the social cues and at times she has some auditory processing problems. However, my daughter cognitive-wise, was at the top of the class and to make matters worse, she is the youngest of all the kids in the class and year.

I found it really hard to find results and where to get help. I believe our kids deserve a better school education and better teachers with a background in psychology and with knowledge of how to manage a group with different kinds of kids.

By anon248505 — On Feb 17, 2012

My son's pre-k teacher gave up on my son before she even tried to help my son. She had my son singled out and labeled him as soon as school started. It's not right how schools can do this.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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