I recommend reading 2013 Global Teacher Status Index written by Peter Dolton and Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez for the Varkey GEMS Foundation. The nice, interactive web site has all sorts of goodies and the full report is an easy read.
Dolton and Marcenaro-Gutierrez surveyed 1,000 respondents in each of over 20 countries on how people feel about teachers. There are lots of goodies in the report, but what’s getting the most attention is the index of teacher status that they’ve put together. On an index of 100 (high) to 1 (low), American teachers were rated 38.4, which, it should be said, was just a bit above the median status score.
The authors provide data on average PISA test scores for each country, as well as on teacher salaries adjusted for the cost of living. I took their data and asked the following question: Suppose the status of American teachers was at the top of the sample, what would happen to America’s PISA score ranking? (I did this controlling for teacher salaries using a multiple regression.) The answer?
If the status of America’s teachers moved up to the top rating, our PISA scores would move up from 12th place (out of 20) to 6th place.
Would be nice, no?