Schools that want to boost long-term student achievement in math might want to pay more attention to the quality of their English teachers.
A new study out of Stanford University, which looked at the performance of 700,000 students in New York City, found that students who had studied under strong language arts teachers scored higher in math at the end of seven years than could have been expected.
Good math teachers, the researchers said, had only small effects on students’ English scores.
The study focused on seven years of data in part because researchers wanted to look at the long-term effects of teaching. In addition to their findings about English teachers, the researchers say their evidence also raises questions about the growing practice of evaluating teachers based on just a year or two of student test scores.
When looking over time, for example, the study suggests that a student’s math scores could be attributed in part to a prior English teacher, not just to their math instructor.
In an article in the Stanford Report, the researchers said they can’t say exactly why good English teaching leads to higher math scores, but hypothesized that it is related to the fact that students must read and write to do math.