November 27, 2007

The Value of Social Capital

A study of Pittsburgh Public Schools by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business, found that schools in schools where teachers talked to each other and principals stayed in touch with the community, math and reading achievement was higher. In fact, the researchers found that these communication networks had a greater impact on test scores than the experience or credentials of the staff.

The economic phrase for these relationships among teachers and between principals and the outside community is "social capital," while measurements of experience and training are called "human capital."

The bottom line of the study, according to lead researcher Dr. Carrie Leana, is that social capital "is a more powerful predictor" of success than human capital, and "if you had to invest in something, you'd be better off investing in social capital than human capital."

Many schools do not provide ample opportunity for teacher collaboration, especially elementary schools. Dr. Leana recommends that principals encourage "interaction and connections among the faculty."

Read more here.