Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools
Using student-level microdata from 2000–2001 to 2004–2005 from Florida and North Carolina, we compare the effectiveness of teachers in schools serving primarily students from low-income families (>70% free-and-reduced-price-lunch students) with teachers in schools serving more advantaged students. The results show that the average effectiveness of teachers in high poverty schools is in general less than teachers in other schools and there is significantly greater variation in teacher quality among high poverty schools. These differences are largely driven by less productive teachers at the bottom of the teacher effectiveness distribution in high-poverty schools. The bulk of the quality differential is due to differences in the unmeasured characteristics of teachers. We find that the gain in productivity to more experienced teachers from additional experience is much stronger in lower-poverty schools. The lower return to experience in high-poverty schools does not appear to be a result of differences in the quality of teachers who leave teaching or who switch schools, however. Our findings suggest that measures that induce highly effective teachers to move to high-poverty schools and which promote an environment in which teachers’ skills will improve over time are more likely to be successful.
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