NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Marc Piopiunik

ifo Institute for Economic Research
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Germany

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2015Weak Markets, Strong Teachers: Recession at Career Start and Teacher Effectiveness
with Markus Nagler, Martin R. West: w21393
How do alternative job opportunities affect teacher quality? We provide causal evidence on this question by exploiting business cycle conditions at career start as a source of exogenous variation in the outside options of potential teachers. Unlike prior research, we directly assess teacher quality with value-added measures of impacts on student test scores, using administrative data on 33,000 teachers in Florida public schools. Consistent with a Roy model of occupational choice, teachers entering the profession during recessions are significantly more effective in raising student test scores. Results are supported by placebo tests and not driven by differential attrition.
December 2014The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance
with Eric A. Hanushek, Simon Wiederhold: w20727
International differences in teacher quality are commonly hypothesized to be a key determinant of the large international student performance gaps, but lack of consistent quality measures has precluded testing this. Using unique assessment data, we construct country-level measures of teacher cognitive skills. We find substantial differences in teacher cognitive skills across countries, and these are strongly related to student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation exploiting within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills. A series of robustness and placebo tests indicate a systematic influence of teacher skills as distinct from overall differences among countries in the level of cognitive skills. Moreover, observed country variations in teacher cognitiv...
 
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