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Study shows lower lifetime earning for pandemic-era students

'We need more effective teachers,' says Eric Hanushek of Stanford's Hoover Institution

Teacher Monica Gutierrez reads to her second grade students at Los Robles-Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto on Aug. 26, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Students nationwide face lower earnings over their lifetime because of a loss of education during the pandemic, a Stanford economist said in a recently completed study, adding that the loss will be even greater for California students.

The average student across the U.S. will lose $70,000 in earnings over their lifetime if something isn't done to offset the learning loss.

California students may lose more than $70,000 in lifetime earnings because earnings overall are higher in California than in many other states.

Economist Eric Hanushek at Stanford's Hoover Institution said to offset the loss "we need more effective teachers."

Hanushek is an international expert in the economic analysis of educational issues.

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He said the quality of learning is more important than the quantity of learning when it comes to offsetting the loss. Quality depends on the effectiveness of teachers, he said.

To improve learning quality, he said, schools can provide incentives to its best teachers.

"You provide incentives to your better teachers to take on more kids," Hanushek said in an interview Thursday.

Schools systems now have a lot of federal money available to them and that money could be used to provide the incentives, Hanushek said. The money could also be used to buy out the contracts of the least effective teachers, he said.

Schools have tried to promote additional or longer school days to make up for learning losses. Hanushek said that may not be effective.

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Hanushek estimated the loss in each state's gross domestic product over the rest of the 21st century due to what may be a lower-skilled workforce.

GDP is expected to be about 1.4% lower each year in California over the rest of the century than it would be if the learning loss did not occur, according to the study. In dollar terms, the loss comes to $1.3 trillion through 2099.

Hanushek calculated that amount by adding up the losses each year and reducing the future ones. The future ones were reduced by an amount to account for their uncertainly and because losses in the future are not as painful as present ones.

California's gross domestic product was about $3.37 trillion in 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

"These losses are permanent unless a state's schools can get better than their pre-pandemic levels," Hanushek wrote in the study.

The immediate impact on California and other state's economies will begin to be felt when current students finish school and become a substantial part of the labor force, the study said.

Because it will not be felt for years, people may ignore the impact.

"That is a mistake, because the economic impact is truly significant," Hanushek wrote.

The study also said that disadvantaged children suffered greater losses in learning than other children and therefore may suffer greater losses in earnings.

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Study shows lower lifetime earning for pandemic-era students

'We need more effective teachers,' says Eric Hanushek of Stanford's Hoover Institution

by Keith Burbank / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Sun, Jan 1, 2023, 9:12 am
Updated: Wed, Jan 4, 2023, 9:08 am

Students nationwide face lower earnings over their lifetime because of a loss of education during the pandemic, a Stanford economist said in a recently completed study, adding that the loss will be even greater for California students.

The average student across the U.S. will lose $70,000 in earnings over their lifetime if something isn't done to offset the learning loss.

California students may lose more than $70,000 in lifetime earnings because earnings overall are higher in California than in many other states.

Economist Eric Hanushek at Stanford's Hoover Institution said to offset the loss "we need more effective teachers."

Hanushek is an international expert in the economic analysis of educational issues.

He said the quality of learning is more important than the quantity of learning when it comes to offsetting the loss. Quality depends on the effectiveness of teachers, he said.

To improve learning quality, he said, schools can provide incentives to its best teachers.

"You provide incentives to your better teachers to take on more kids," Hanushek said in an interview Thursday.

Schools systems now have a lot of federal money available to them and that money could be used to provide the incentives, Hanushek said. The money could also be used to buy out the contracts of the least effective teachers, he said.

Schools have tried to promote additional or longer school days to make up for learning losses. Hanushek said that may not be effective.

Hanushek estimated the loss in each state's gross domestic product over the rest of the 21st century due to what may be a lower-skilled workforce.

GDP is expected to be about 1.4% lower each year in California over the rest of the century than it would be if the learning loss did not occur, according to the study. In dollar terms, the loss comes to $1.3 trillion through 2099.

Hanushek calculated that amount by adding up the losses each year and reducing the future ones. The future ones were reduced by an amount to account for their uncertainly and because losses in the future are not as painful as present ones.

California's gross domestic product was about $3.37 trillion in 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

"These losses are permanent unless a state's schools can get better than their pre-pandemic levels," Hanushek wrote in the study.

The immediate impact on California and other state's economies will begin to be felt when current students finish school and become a substantial part of the labor force, the study said.

Because it will not be felt for years, people may ignore the impact.

"That is a mistake, because the economic impact is truly significant," Hanushek wrote.

The study also said that disadvantaged children suffered greater losses in learning than other children and therefore may suffer greater losses in earnings.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2023 at 12:54 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 4, 2023 at 12:54 pm

Not sure how this fits in with lifetime earnings, but it is not just academics that hit these students. The socialization they have missed are crucial skills needed for being able to work together as a team, get on with people who have different interests or find difficult, how to get to know someone new, know what is suitable peer conversation topics, and how to behave in a classroom. I have heard from some in a classroom setting that children just don't pay attention not just to the lesson material, but to use indoor voices, sit quietly and not interrupt.

These life skills are necessary to maintain good working environments. Whether it is in an office environment or in a trade or service job, being able to intuitively work well with others is something that isolation prevents.


Retired PAUSD Teacher
Registered user
another community
on Jan 5, 2023 at 9:13 am
Retired PAUSD Teacher, another community
Registered user
on Jan 5, 2023 at 9:13 am

It seems as if Mr. Hanushek is using the pandemic and learning loss as a means to attack teachers: “The money could also be used to buy out the contracts of the least effective teachers”, and to rekindle an old idea that has gone nowhere in the past: "You provide incentives to your better teachers to take on more kids".

First off, at least in PAUSD, effective teachers often become targets for harassment and intimidation if they challenge what they see as ineffective policies emanating from 25 Churchill. Thus, there is an incentive to conform, and a disincentive to perform.

Second, the whole evaluation system in PAUSD is broken. “Bad teachers” get tenure because many administrators don’t know how to do evaluations anymore, or they simply don’t do them at all, as was the case at Greene recently.

Finally, there is a teacher shortage. Buying out contracts implies that there are qualified, effective teachers waiting in the wings. That is simply not the case.

Of course, one could argue it is the teacher’s union that is the problem, and it is safe to assume that Mr. Hanushek would take that track as well. Yet the union only protects teachers granted tenure by administration and the board. Often the union is protecting a teacher that has come under duress not for being ineffective, but for not playing along with district leaders that have lost touch with classroom realities.

So, to be fair, Mr. Hanushek should also look at other factors, like the effectiveness of district leadership, and how they treat their teaching staff. From my own experience, I can say that teachers are not treated very well unless they are able to curry favor with 25 Churchill. Classroom effectiveness is almost an afterthought unless there is a student and parent revolt against the teacher.


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