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The Quality and Distribution of Teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act


  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Steven G. Rivkin


The main effects of No Child Left Behind on the quality of teaching are likely to come through two provisions of the act. First, NCLB establishes benchmarks based on test score pass rates that schools must meet in order to remain in good standing and avoid sanctions. Since teachers are central to student performance, this accountability component of NCLB is likely to have direct effects on both the demand for and supply of teachers and therefore on both the composition of the stock of public school teachers and the distribution of those teachers among schools. Second, NCLB explicitly requires districts to have "highly qualified" teachers, and the enunciation and enforcement of such a standard might have an additional effect on the composition of teachers. We will discuss three avenues by which these requirements might affect the quality of teachers. First, we will argue that the requirements for "highly qualified" teachers are unlikely to have had any perceptible effect on the performance of students. Second, the combination of quality requirements and the more-stringent testing environment could make teaching appear more costly and risky as a profession and thus alter the composition of new entrants, but at least so far, we find no evidence of such effects. Finally, the accountability provisions might change the dynamics of the labor market for teachers, including decisions about hiring and job separation. While not completely understood, this channel might be quite important, especially at low-performing schools where the stress of the accountability requirements is highest. We will provide new evidence from Texas on the relationship between school accountability ratings and teacher transitions both out of schools and out of grades three through eight, the grades subject to NCLB testing requirements. Finally, we offer some observations about potential policy implications and a future research agenda.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2010. "The Quality and Distribution of Teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 133-150, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:133-50 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.3.133

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
    2. Scafidi Benjamin & Sjoquist David L. & Stinebrickner Todd R., 2006. "Do Teachers Really Leave for Higher Paying Jobs in Alternative Occupations?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-44, December.
    3. Stinebrickner, Todd R, 2001. "A Dynamic Model of Teacher Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 196-230, January.
    4. Sean P. Corcoran & William N. Evans & Robert M. Schwab, 2004. "Changing Labor-Market Opportunities for Women and the Quality of Teachers, 1957-2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 230-235, May.
    5. Eric Hanushek & Steven Rivkin, 2010. "Constrained Job Matching: Does Teacher Job Search Harm Disadvantaged Urban Schools?," Discussion Papers 09-011, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    6. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2005. "Does school accountability lead to improved student performance?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 297-327.
    7. Dale Ballou & Michael Podgursky, 2002. "Returns to Seniority among Public School Teachers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 892-912.
    8. 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.
    9. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
    10. Kane, Thomas J. & Rockoff, Jonah E. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2008. "What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 615-631, December.
    11. Podgursky, Michael & Monroe, Ryan & Watson, Donald, 2004. "The academic quality of public school teachers: an analysis of entry and exit behavior," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 507-518, October.
    12. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor & Roger Aliaga Diaz, 2004. "Do school accountability systems make it more difficult for low-performing schools to attract and retain high-quality teachers?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 251-271.
    13. Hanushek, Eric, 1971. "Teacher Characteristics and Gains in Student Achievement: Estimation Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 280-288, May.
    14. Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & James Wyckoff, 2005. "The draw of home: How teachers' preferences for proximity disadvantage urban schools," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 113-132.
    15. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haeck, Catherine & Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip, 2014. "The distributional impacts of a universal school reform on mathematical achievements: A natural experiment from Canada," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 137-160.
    2. Alexander Bogin & Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, 2014. "Property Left Behind: An Unintended Consequence Of A No Child Left Behind “Failing” School Designation," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(5), pages 788-805, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • 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
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets


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