"Teacher Effects" in Early Literacy Development: Evidence from a Study of Twins.

Research paper by Brian B Byrne, William L WL Coventry, Richard K RK Olson, Sally J SJ Wadsworth, Stefan S Samuelsson, Stephen A SA Petrill, Erik G EG Willcutt, Robin R Corley

Indexed on: 06 Mar '10Published on: 06 Mar '10Published in: Journal of educational psychology


It is often assumed that differences in teacher characteristics are a major source of variability in children's educational achievements. We examine this assumption for early literacy achievement by calculating the correlations between pairs of twin children who either share or do not share a teacher in kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2. Teacher effects, or more strictly classroom effects, would show up as higher correlations for same- than different-class twin pairs. Same-class correlations were generally higher than different-class correlations, though not significantly so on most occasions. On the basis of the results we estimate that the maximum variance accounted for by being assigned to same or different classrooms is 8%. This is an upper-bound figure for a teacher effect because factors other than teachers may contribute to variation attributable to classroom assignment. We discuss the limitations of the study and draw out some of its educational implications.