NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement

Jesse Rothstein

NBER Working Paper No. 14442
Issued in October 2008
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

Growing concerns over the achievement of U.S. students have led to proposals 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. Implicit 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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14442

Published: Jesse Rothstein, 2010. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 175-214, February. citation courtesy of

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