- A Grattan Report
Improving teacher effectiveness would have a greater impact on
economic growth than any other reform before Australian
governments. The improvement in student learning could lift
Australian students to the top of international performance tables.
An increase in teacher effectiveness of 10% would lift Australia’s
education systems into the highest performing group of countries
in the world. In the longer-term, this improves the productivity of
Australian workers, which increases long-run economic growth by
$90 billion by 2050, making Australians 12% richer by the turn of
the century. This is in addition to the other benefits to individual
wellbeing and society of better education.
Improving teacher effectiveness also has substantial economic
benefits for individuals. Young people who stay in school and
invest in further education can expect to earn an additional 8-10%
per year for each additional year of education they undertake.
Increasing teacher effectiveness is thus perhaps the single most
profound economic transformation open to Australian
governments. Improvements of this magnitude are achievable.
Each grade needs to incorporate an extra 5% of a year’s worth of
learning for our students to be amongst the best in the world.
However, education policy priorities would need to change. Past
investments to improve school education have not yielded results.
Policies reducing class sizes have driven much of the increase in
education expenditure in Australia over the last decades. These
policies have been politically popular and are intuitively appealing.
Advocates argue that a teacher should be able to offer more to
The evidence does not support these policies. The vast majority
of studies around the world have shown that class size reductions
do not significantly improve schooling and student outcomes. For
example, recent evidence from Florida that emphasised class size
reductions in the early years of education shows that policies
reducing average class size by about 2.5-3 students had no
impact on improved schooling, but cost over $1 million dollars per
school per year.
The evidence shows that improving teacher effectiveness is the
best method of improving student performance. It is more
important for a student to have an effective teacher than to be in a
class with a few less students. Teacher effectiveness has a
greater impact on student performance than any other
government school education reform. Initiatives to improve
teacher effectiveness not only help students more, they cost much
This report does not point the finger at teachers. On the contrary,
this report argues for improved investments in teacher
effectiveness. This will have the greatest benefit for our students
and is the most effective method of making Australia’s school
education systems the best in the world.