Understanding a Teacher’s Long-Term Impact

Students’ future outcomes can be improved by learning skills such as self-regulation.

Teachers teach more than content. They also teach skills that will help students succeed as adults. A recent study

illustrates the importance of developing those abilities. Teachers who help kids improve their grades and develop noncognitive skills such as self-regulation boost their chances of graduating from high school.

“Good teachers might affect pupils more broadly than their impact on achievement test results,” says C. Kirabo Jackson, an economist at Northwestern University.

Jackson looked into data from over 570,000 kids in North Carolina and discovered that 9th-grade teachers who taught pupils noncognitive skills like motivation, self-regulation, and adaptability to new settings had a significant influence on their students. They were more likely to be present and have better grades, attendance, and graduation rates than their classmates. They also had a lesser likelihood of being suspended or having a grade taken away from them. These advantages lasted through high school.

Tests, according to Jackson, do not assess the skills that will be most useful for future success. While teachers are frequently praised for their ability to raise test scores, Jackson’s research suggests that teachers who encourage student attendance and improve their behavior have superior long-term effects. Students with better noncognitive skills scores were more likely to graduate high school than those with lower test scores, according to Jackson. This was 1.47 percentage points higher than the previous increase of 0.12 percentage points.

This, together with the study’s other long-term findings, adds to the expanding body of knowledge about how children might improve noncognitive skills.


Teachers have the greatest impact on student success than any other aspect. A well-trained teacher will send more students to college and can increase a class’s lifetime earnings by $250,000.

According to Jackson, test scores “capture barely a percentage” of a teacher’s ability. Teachers, on the other hand, have an important role in pupils’ general well-being, according to Jackson. According to a 2015 study, pupils’ emotional and social well-being resulted in substantial long-term economic gains. This was mostly due to improved long-term health and education outcomes for kids, as well as lower rates of juvenile and adult criminality.

Achievement exams cannot capture all adult competencies, according to Jackson. If we rate instructors only on the number of test scores they raise, we may lose sight of the bigger picture.


Noncognitive talents can be improved through time, according to recent research in psychology and neuroscience.

Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor, remarked in a recent interview that the brain needs safety, love, and hugs. Positive emotion outperforms negative emotion in terms of effectiveness. This has far-reaching ramifications for how we educate children in classrooms.

When we asked readers to explain the situation, they came up with

characteristics of a life-changing teacher

Few responses in 2017 focused on academics or test results. Many participants felt that instructors have the ability to make children feel loved and comfortable, to inspire them to believe in themselves, to demonstrate patience, and to assist them in reaching their greatest potential. These attributes are unquantifiable.

Long-term success for students is frequently determined by their behavior rather than their academic performance.

According to studies, kids who drop out of high school do so for a variety of reasons, including disciplinary issues, financial difficulties, and other family obligations. Students who drop out of high school due to scholastic difficulties are frequently disengaged. It should not be possible for students to increase their test scores. Rather, students should experience a sense of belonging at school.

In the end, teachers have far more to contribute than their test scores. Students who have learned noncognitive skills have a greater graduation rate in the long run.