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How Do Teachers Improve? The Relative Importance of Specific and General Human Capital

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  • Ben Ost

Abstract

One of the most consistent findings in the literature on teacher quality is that teachers improve with experience, especially in the first several years. This study extends this research by separately identifying the benefits of general teaching experience and specific curriculum familiarity. I find that both specific and general human capital contribute to teacher improvement and that recent specific experience is more valuable than distant specific experience. This paper also contributes to a broader literature on human capital acquisition, as it is among the first to examine human capital specificity using a direct measure of productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Ost, 2014. "How Do Teachers Improve? The Relative Importance of Specific and General Human Capital," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 127-151, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:127-51
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.6.2.127
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cory Koedel & Julian Betts, 2010. "Value Added to What? How a Ceiling in the Testing Instrument Influences Value-Added Estimation," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 5(1), pages 54-81, January.
    2. Dennis Görlich & Andries de Grip, 2009. "Human capital depreciation during hometime," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(suppl_1), pages 98-121, April.
    3. Jesse Rothstein, 2010. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 175-214.
    4. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement: New Evidence from Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285.
    5. Douglas N. Harris, 2009. "Would Accountability Based on Teacher Value Added Be Smart Policy? An Examination of the Statistical Properties and Policy Alternatives," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(4), pages 319-350, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
    8. Thomas J. Kane & Stephanie K. Riegg & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "School Quality, Neighborhoods, and Housing Prices," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 183-212.
    9. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    10. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    11. Clotfelter, Charles T. & Ladd, Helen F. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2007. "Teacher credentials and student achievement: Longitudinal analysis with student fixed effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 673-682, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    2. Seth Gershenson & Stephen B. Holt & Nicholas Papageorge, 2015. "Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 15-231, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:368-377 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Papay, John P. & Kraft, Matthew A., 2015. "Productivity returns to experience in the teacher labor market: Methodological challenges and new evidence on long-term career improvement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 105-119.
    5. Mullen, John & Gray, Doug & Meyer, Julien de, 2015. "Evaluating the impact of capacity building by ACIAR," 2015 Conference (59th), February 10-13, 2015, Rotorua, New Zealand 202559, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    6. Ost, Ben & Schiman, Jeffrey C., 2017. "Workload and teacher absence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 20-30.
    7. Hanushek, Eric A. & Rivkin, Steven G. & Schiman, Jeffrey C., 2016. "Dynamic effects of teacher turnover on the quality of instruction," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 132-148.
    8. Seth Gershenson, 2016. "Performance Standards and Employee Effort: Evidence From Teacher Absences," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(3), pages 615-638, June.
    9. Matthew A. Kraft, 2015. "Teacher Layoffs, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Discretionary Layoff Policy," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(4), pages 467-507, October.
    10. DeAngelo, Gregory & Owens, Emily G., 2017. "Learning the ropes: General experience, task-Specific experience, and the output of police officers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 368-377.
    11. Brian Jacob & Jonah E. Rockoff & Eric S. Taylor & Benjamin Lindy & Rachel Rosen, 2016. "Teacher Applicant Hiring and Teacher Performance: Evidence from DC Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 22054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Kareem Haggag & Brian McManus & Giovanni Paci, 2017. "Learning by Driving: Productivity Improvements by New York City Taxi Drivers," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 70-95, January.
    13. Ost, Ben & Schiman, Jeffrey C., 2015. "Grade-specific experience, grade reassignments, and teacher turnover," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 112-126.
    14. Cook, Jason B. & Mansfield, Richard K., 2016. "Task-specific experience and task-specific talent: Decomposing the productivity of high school teachers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 51-72.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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