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Student sorting and bias in value added estimation: Selection on observables and unobservables

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  • Jesse Rothstein

Abstract

Non-random assignment of students to teachers can bias value added estimates of teachers' causal effects. Rothstein (2008a, b) shows that typical value added models indicate large counter-factual effects of 5th grade teachers on students' 4th grade learning, indicating that classroom assignments are far from random. This paper quantifies the resulting biases in estimates of 5th grade teachers' causal effects from several value added models, under varying assumptions about the assignment process. If assignments are assumed to depend only on observables, the most commonly used specifications are subject to important bias but other feasible specifications are nearly free of bias. I also consider the case where assignments depend on unobserved variables. I use the across-classroom variance of observables to calibrate several models of the sorting process. Results indicate that even the best feasible value added models may be substantially biased, with the magnitude of the bias depending on the amount of information available for use in classroom assignments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14666.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Publication status: published as Jesse Rothstein, 2009. "Student Sorting and Bias in Value-Added Estimation: Selection on Observables and Unobservables," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 537-571, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14666

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  1. 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.
  2. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2002. "Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools," Working Paper Series WP-02-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  4. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2008. "Can Principals Identify Effective Teachers? Evidence on Subjective Performance Evaluation in Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 101-136.
  5. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & Jonah Rockoff & James Wyckoff, 2008. "The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(4), pages 793-818.
  8. Cory Koedel & Julian Betts, 2007. "Re-Examining the Role of Teacher Quality In the Educational Production Function," Working Papers 0708, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  9. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2008. "Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 14607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Bratti, Massimiliano & Checchi, Daniele, 2013. "Re-testing PISA Students One Year Later: On School Value Added Estimation Using OECD-PISA," IZA Discussion Papers 7722, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Braga, Michela & Paccagnella, Marco & Pellizzari, Michele, 2011. "Evaluating Students' Evaluations of Professors," IZA Discussion Papers 5620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Becker, William E. & Becker, Suzanne R., 2011. "Potpourri: reflections from husband/wife academic editors," MPRA Paper 39956, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Susanna Loeb & Demetra Kalogrides & Tara BĂ©teille, 2011. "Effective Schools: Teacher Hiring, Assignment, Development, and Retention," NBER Working Papers 17177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Steven Dieterle (University of Edinburgh), 2013. "Development Class-size Reduction Policies and the Quality of Entering Teachers," ESE Discussion Papers 224, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Jesse Rothstein, 2012. "Teacher Quality Policy When Supply Matters," NBER Working Papers 18419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Strain, Michael R., 2013. "Single-sex classes & student outcomes: Evidence from North Carolina," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 73-87.
  9. Goldhaber, Dan & Cowan, James & Walch, Joe, 2013. "Is a good elementary teacher always good? Assessing teacher performance estimates across subjects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 216-228.
  10. Dan Goldhaber & Duncan Chaplin, 2012. "Assessing the Rothstein Test: Does It Really Show Teacher Value-Added Models Are Biased?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7333, Mathematica Policy Research.
  11. Cory Koedel & Mark Ehlert & Eric Parsons & Michael Podgursky, 2012. "Selecting Growth Measures for School and Teacher Evaluations," Working Papers 1210, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  12. Rockoff, Jonah E. & Speroni, Cecilia, 2011. "Subjective and objective evaluations of teacher effectiveness: Evidence from New York City," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 687-696, October.
  13. Meghir, Costas & Rivkin, Steven, 2011. "Econometric Methods for Research in Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  14. Stephen Lipscomb & Bing-ru Teh & Brian Gill & Hanley Chiang & Antoniya Owens, 2010. "Teacher and Principal Value-Added: Research Findings and Implementation Practices," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6941, Mathematica Policy Research.
  15. Steven Glazerman & Jeffrey Max, 2011. "Do Low-Income Students have Equal Access to the Highest-Performing Teachers?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6956, Mathematica Policy Research.
  16. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2011. "The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 17699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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