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How and Why has Teacher Quality Changed in Australia?

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Abstract

International research suggests that differences in teacher performance can explain a large portion of student achievement. Yet little is known about how the quality of the Australian teaching profession has changed over time. Using consistent data on the academic aptitude of new teachers, we compare those who have entered the teaching profession in Australia over the past two decades. We find that the aptitude of new teachers has fallen considerably. Between 1983 and 2003, the average percentile rank of those entering teacher education fell from 74 to 61, while the average rank of new teachers fell from 70 to 62. One factor that seems to have changed substantially over this period is average teacher pay. Compared to non-teachers with a degree, average teacher pay fell substantially over the period 1983-2003. Another factor is pay dispersion in alternative occupations. During the 1980s and 1990s, non-teacher earnings at the top of the distribution rose faster than earnings at the middle and bottom of the distribution. For an individual with the potential to earn a wage at the 90th percentile of the distribution, a non-teaching occupation looked much more attractive in the 2000s than it did in the 1980s. We believe that both the fall in average teacher pay, and the rise in pay differentials in non-teaching occupations are responsible for the decline in the academic aptitude of new teachers over the past two decades.

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  • Andrew Leigh & Chris Ryan, 2006. "How and Why has Teacher Quality Changed in Australia?," CEPR Discussion Papers 534, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:534
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP534.pdf
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    1. Peter Dolton & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 1999. "The Turnover of Teachers: A Competing Risks Explanation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 543-550, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alison L. Booth & Hiau Joo Kee, 2011. "A Long‐Run View Of The University Gender Gap In Australia," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 51(3), pages 254-276, November.
    2. Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Estimating teacher effectiveness from two-year changes in students' test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 480-488, June.
    3. Andrew Leigh & Chris Ryan, 2011. "Long-Run Trends in School Productivity: Evidence from Australia," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 105-135, January.
    4. Richard Cebula & Franklin Mixon & Mark Montez, 2015. "Teachers’ salaries and human capital, and their effects on academic performance: an institution-level analysis of Los Angeles County high schools," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 39(2), pages 347-356, April.
    5. Son Nghiem & Ha Trong Nguyen & Luke B. Connelly, 2016. "The Efficiency of Australian Schools: A Nationwide Analysis Using Gains in Test Scores of Students as Outputs," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(3), pages 256-268, September.
    6. Leigh, Andrew, 2012. "Teacher pay and teacher aptitude," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 41-53.
    7. Andrew Leigh, 2013. "Revenge of the Nerds: The Economics of Education Reform," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 46(2), pages 227-233, June.
    8. Mausumi Das & Subrata Guha, 2012. "What Do Teachers Do? Teacher Quality Vis-a-vis Teacher Quantity in a Model of Public Education and Growth," Working papers 216, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    9. Grönqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2016. "One size fits all? The effects of teachers' cognitive and social abilities on student achievement," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 138-150.

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    Keywords

    test scores; teacher salary; occupational choice;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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