Thought of the Day: “The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student.”

The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student.

Picture of Neil DeGrasse TysonYesterday, I shared a quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, from his recent interview on Fresh Air, about why he thinks teachers should not take credit for straight-A students.  I thought it was important to contextualize his thoughts, and by proxy, my own thoughts, on the subject, by sharing another quote from that interview.

As can be seen from today’s quote, it is not that Dr. Tyson nor myself are inherently “anti-teacher” or think that teachers don’t have value.  By contrast, I think both of us subscribe to the value-added view of teaching excellence, which is that any measurement of teaching must compare the change in learning that the teacher was able to help facilitate.  This has been one of the major problems with how standardized testing was implemented in the past as it only looked at current “ability”, not changes in ability.  Teachers only have influence over the change of ability.  And I am not alone in thinking that if any measurement of teaching is to exist, it must view how much a teacher helped to change a student’s life.  Many other teachers share this view as well.

P.S. – You may have noticed I said, “this has been one of the major problems with how standardized testing was implemented”.  There are other major problems with past (and current) standardized testing.  Which I will post about in the future, as I get sufficient evidence to support me statement.


  1. Pingback: Thought of the Day: “A Straight-A Student has straight A’s not because of teachers, but in spite of teachers” at Jacob J. Walker's Blog

  2. Jacob, Nice thought and I can’t argue for or against the premise having only been teaching ICT for six months, but the logic is sound. I’d like to believe I inspire, but given my perception of my teaching skills thus far, I have a long way to grow.

    That said, I have a more serious question on the “standards” topic, I hope this is the right place to post the issue. My question is more about how to interpret and apply “standards” to content. It stems from a course description that was recently updated. The course is intended to be a introductory course to all four ICT branches and the new description states the course “… uses a thematic approach to help students acquire basic technology skills aligned to the National Education Technology Standards (NETS).”

    Now I think I am a pretty intelligent person and my interpretation of the NETS standards, actually the ITES standards since 2011, are for all educational areas and not specific to ICT. In other words, the ITES standards are for use by all teachers to integrate the benefits of technology into any classroom and any subject. So am I wrong to view this as an error? I am not an administrator or curriculum expert, but if we’re teaching ICT shouldn’t the target be shooting for the new ICT standards vice the ITES? Should I raise a flag in our house to examine this? Are the ITES standards too broad and non-specific to teach actual ICT concepts, even as an introduction to IT?

    I know you and a group of many took great care in redrafting the CA ICT standards. I have those and have read them and your follow on piece describing the logic behind them. BTW, nice job! They make perfect sense to me based on my recent experience as a corporate and government CIO. I am fearful to bring attention to what I perceive as an error since I may be the one who is in fact interpreting this wrong. The course curriculum and description were written and approved by seasoned educators, I am just an IT guy disguised as a first year teacher.

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