Young teachers are outperforming older peers

The pupils of younger teachers perform better on maths and literacy tests, according to research by ReSEP economist, Paula Armstrong. The role of teacher training has shifted since 2000 from teacher colleges to universities, to which Armstrong attributes this effect. This result counters the recent argument that reopening teacher training colleges is the panacea needed to increase the quality and quantity of available teachers in the country.

Armstrong used the SACMEQ III data to look at pupils of teachers of different ages, and found that the having a teacher between 19 and 29 were correlated with higher math scores than seen with older teachers. Armstrong admits that this performance gap might also be because younger teachers could relate better with the pupils, but the result remains that teachers coming through the university system, which is often seen as too theoretical and abstract, are performing well.

Earlier this year Armstrong looked at the effect of teacher compensation and teacher incentive possibilities. She found that teaching is relatively unattractive to top students, which might lead to lower quality candidates entering the profession.

Armstrong’s research was recently featured in Die Burger and the Cape Times.