High-quality Early Educators are “Worth” Over $300,000 Per Year

An article published Tuesday in The New York Times revealed some recent findings by a group of economists who looked at the lasting positive effects of high-quality Kindergarten teachers. While looking at individuals who participated in a Tennessee early education experiment in the 1980s, the researchers found that as adults those who were taught by a high-quality Kindergarten teacher earned more, were less likely to be single parents, and went to college more frequently than those who were taught by a lower quality teacher. This, they argue, is evidence for “The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers.”

Several researchers and analysts have discussed how high-quality early education can produce gains- but that these gains fade-out by third grade (see our early blogs on this topic here and here). This fade-out phenomenon is often used to argue against investments in high-quality early education programs. However, much of the data used to support fade-out effects is based only on academic test scores. Do academic test scores alone measure the value of high-quality early education? Should other skills that are taught in early education classrooms- like motivation, perseverance, and social-emotional skills- be considered? This group of economists thinks so. Their research looks at other outcomes- like job salary and education completion- and shows positive, long-term gains due to high-quality early education.

Check out the article here and let us know what you think a high-quality early educator is “worth.”

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