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What's A Good Kindergarten Teacher Worth?

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What do you remember from kindergarten? Maybe your teacher or your best friend's name, but what about what you learned? Can you recall what you were taught?

A new study about kindergarten education suggests that what took place in that classroom may play a much larger role in your future than previously thought, particularly in regards to earnings potential.

The New York Times reports on the "fairly explosive" results of a study which followed 12,000 Tennessee children from kindergarten to adulthood.

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.

All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.

The study done by Harvard economist, Raj Chetty, and his colleagues suggests that because students who learn more in kindergarten can expect to see their earnings increase significantly, an excellent kindergarten teacher could be worth as much as $320,000 a year.