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Long-Run Trends in the Quality of Teachers: Evidence and Implications for Policy


  • Sean P. Corcoran

    () (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University)


One of the key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act requires states to ensure that every teacher be “highly qualified.” Though the meaning of “highly qualified” remains hotly contested, the legislation's emphasis on teachers is well founded. Nearly all modern research on the subject finds teacher effectiveness to be among the most important school inputs into student achievement. Yet recent literature, including my own work (Corcoran, Evans, and Schwab 2004), finds evidence that the quality of teachers has steadily eroded over time. In particular, the likelihood that a high-aptitude female pursued a career in teaching dropped precipitously between 1960 and 2000. In this article, I summarize these and related findings, review some of the most common explanations for the trend in teacher quality, and discuss policies that have been advanced to attract talented graduates to the teaching profession. © 2007 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Sean P. Corcoran, 2007. "Long-Run Trends in the Quality of Teachers: Evidence and Implications for Policy," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 395-407, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:2:y:2007:i:4:p:395-407

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    Cited by:

    1. Alejandra Mizala & Hugo Ñopo, 2014. "Measuring the Relative Pay of Latin American School Teachers at the turn of the 20th Century," Working Papers 2014-15, Peruvian Economic Association.
    2. Mizala, Alejandra & Ñopo, Hugo, 2016. "Measuring the relative pay of school teachers in Latin America 1997–2007," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 20-32.

    More about this item


    teacher quality; education policy; No Child Left Behind Act;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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