Do Better Educated High School Teachers Improve College Graduation Rates?

Doris Santoro

According to a recent analysis by the Bangor Daily News, a Maine high school student’s chances of completing a college degree bear no relation to how well qualified his teachers are.

A study of two graduating classes “confirmed previous research that found a weak link between the share of teachers with master’s degrees in a school and the share of students that ultimately complete two- or four-year college degrees,” said the article.

That link was found to be at its weakest at high schools with higher poverty levels, where a higher proportion of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

The article quotes Associate Professor of Education Doris Santoro, who says there are factors beyond the classroom that affect how successful high school students are when they go on to college.

“This is a human endeavor that is always going to be more messy than any formula that we can devise,” she told the newspaper. “We need to really be careful about placing all of the responsibility on schools and teachers for issues we haven’t taken responsibility for as a community—things like addiction, abuse, poverty and racism.”

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