Teacher Quality

Teacher Quality - Teacher Quality in Educational Production...

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Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement Jesse Rothstein Princeton University and NBER This version: May 2009 First version: September 2007 Abstract Growing concerns over the inadequate achievement of U.S. students have led to pro- posals to reward good teachers and penalize (or fire) bad ones. The leading method for assessing teacher quality is “value added” modeling (VAM), which decomposes students’ test scores into components attributed to student heterogeneity and to teacher quality. Im- plicit in the VAM approach are strong assumptions about the nature of the educational production function and the assignment of students to classrooms. In this paper, I develop falsification tests for three widely used VAM specifications, based on the idea that future teachers cannot influence students’ past achievement. In data from North Carolina, each of the VAMs’ exclusion restrictions are dramatically violated. In particular, these models indicate large “effects” of 5th grade teachers on 4th grade test score gains. I also find that conventional measures of individual teachers’ value added fade out very quickly and are at best weakly related to long-run effects. I discuss implications for the use of VAMs as personnel tools. Industrial Relations Section, Firestone Library, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail: [email protected] Earlier versions of this paper circulated under the title “Do Value Added Models Add Value?” I am grateful to Nathan Wozny and Enkeleda Gjeci for exceptional research assistance. I thank Orley Ashenfelter, Henry Braun, David Card, Henry Farber, Bo Honoré, Brian Jacob, Tom Kane, Larry Katz, Alan Krueger, Sunny Ladd, David Lee, Lars Lefgren, Austin Nichols, Amine Ouazad, Mike Rothschild, Cecilia Rouse, Diane Schanzenbach, Eric Verhoogen, Tristan Zajonc, anonymous referees, and conference and seminar participants for helpful conversations and sug- gestions. I also thank the North Carolina Education Data Research Center at Duke University for assembling, cleaning, and making available the confidential data used in this study. Financial support was generously provided by the Princeton Industrial Relations Section and Center for Economic Policy Studies and the U.S. Department of Education (under grant R305A080560). 1
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I I NTRODUCTION Parallel literatures in labor economics and education adopt similar econometric strategies for identifying the effects of firms on wages and of teachers on student test scores. Outcomes are modeled as the sum of the firm or teacher effect, individual heterogeneity, and transitory, or- thogonal error. The resulting estimates of firm effects are used to gauge the relative importance of firm and worker heterogeneity in the determination of wages. In education, so-called “value added models” (hereafter, VAMs) have been used to measure the importance of teacher qual- ity to educational production, to assess teacher preparation and certification programs, and as important inputs to personnel evaluations and merit pay programs.
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Teacher Quality - Teacher Quality in Educational Production...

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