In August, and then in September, two studies came out highlighting what all good educators already know – test scores are not the best way to gauge how successful we are with our students.

You can read about those two studies at:

New Study Finds That – Surprise, Surprise – Evaluating A High School On Student Test Scores Misses The Boat

Another Important Study Finds That Teachers Focusing On Increasing Student Test Scores Doesn’t Help A Lot Of Students


Now, a third study has just come out confirming those previous results, and it’s not behind a paywall.

Check out Teachers and School Climate: Effects on Student Outcomes and Academic Disparities, by Benjamin Backes, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (who also authored the second study I described).

Here’s their abstract:

Student-teacher relationships are at the core of student experiences in schools and, arguably, fundamental to influencing student outcomes. Using a statewide, student-level school climate survey from Massachusetts, we investigate teachers’ contributions to school climate, which we refer to as climate value added (VA), and how it varies by student race/ethnicity. We first show that climate VA contributes to student learning: Teachers whose students report positive feelings about climate also contribute more to student test scores and to an aggregate of nontest student outcomes (student absences, suspensions, and grade progression). And teachers identified by students of color as contributing to better school climate have outsize effects on learning gains for these students. Differences in teachers’ climate effects across racial/ethnic groups are largest on topics aligned with cultural competency, school participation, and comfort with faculty. Lastly, we find that Black students assigned to Black teachers report better school climate than Black students assigned to other teachers.


Of course, these studies build on the previous work in this area by researcher Kirabo Jackson.  You can read about his research here.



Beyond Test Scores: Measuring Teacher Impact on Student Success is from Calder.

ADDENDUM: Here’s an updated version of the study highlighted in this post: How to Measure a Teacher: The Influence of Test and Nontest Value-Added on Long-Run Student Outcomes