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Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Working Paper Series
Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools
Daniel Aaronson
Lisa Barrow
William Sander
Abstract

We match administrative data on Chicago public high school students and teachers at the classroom level to estimate the importance of teachers to mathematics test score gains. We show that sampling variation and other measurement issues are important drivers of naïve estimates of teacher effects, in some cases accounting for the majority of dispersion in teacher quality. However, correcting for these problems, teachers are still economically and statistically influential. Replacing a teacher with another that is rated two standard deviations superior in quality can add 0.35 to 0.45 grade equivalents, or 30 to 40 percent of an average school year, to a student's math score performance. Furthermore, the teacher quality ratings are relatively stable within an individual instructor over time and reasonably consistent across most student types, with the notable exception of the lowest achieving students, where the same two standard deviation improvement in teacher quality adds only 0.20 grade equivalents. Finally, we relate our measured teacher effects to observable characteristics of the instructors and show that the vast majority is unexplained by standard observable characteristics of teachers, including those that are typically used for compensation purposes


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Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Working Paper Series WP-02-28, 2002.
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Keywords: Achievement tests - Illinois ; Education
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