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Does Better Teacher Selection Lead to Better Students? Evidence from a Large Scale Reform in Colombia


  • Zelda Brutti
  • Fabio Sánchez


In 2002 the career of Colombian public school teachers was significantly reformed through the introduction of a selective entry competition and of further quality incentives. This paper estimates how the new quality-screened teachers impact students’ high school performance. We exploit the fact that the novel regulation applied only to newly hired teachers, whereas those al-ready in office in 2002 remained exempt, creating a mix of New-Regulation and Old-Regulation teachers in Colombian schools. Using data at the school-year-subject level, we eliminate any school-level confounders and associate the proportion of New-Regulation teachers to the variation in student test scores. We pin down a positive and significant, although not very large, effect of New Regulation teachers on student performance. New Regulation teachers have decreasing marginal returns, are more effective in larger schools and when surrounded by colleagues holding postgraduate degrees. We also document that the enforcement of the New Regulation has been somewhat unsatisfactory, since in the period 2008-2013 around 30% of all New Regulation teachers are employed in temporary positions without having passed the compulsory entry exam. These teachers have lower and less robust impacts on student performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Zelda Brutti & Fabio Sánchez, 2017. "Does Better Teacher Selection Lead to Better Students? Evidence from a Large Scale Reform in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 15350, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:015350

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2012. "Do better schools lead to more growth? Cognitive skills, economic outcomes, and causation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 267-321, December.
    2. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, March.
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    9. Jonah E. Rockoff & Brian A. Jacob & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2011. "Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher When You Recruit One?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 6(1), pages 43-74, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ferreira Sequeda, Maria & Golsteyn, Bart & Parra Cely, Sergio, 2018. "The effect of grade retention on secondary school performance: Evidence from a natural experiment," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    2. Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Eduard F. Martínez-González, 2017. "Educación Escolar para la Inclusión y la Transformación Social en el Caribe Colombiano," Documentos de Trabajo Sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 15912, Banco de la República, Economía Regional.
    3. Sandra García Jaramillo & Darío Maldonado Carrizosa & Catherine Rodríguez Orgales, 2018. "Educación básica y media en Colombia: diagnóstico y recomendaciones de política," Documentos de trabajo 17639, Escuela de Gobierno - Universidad de los Andes.
    4. Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Eduard F. Martínez-González, 2019. "Educación escolar para la inclusión y la transformación social," Chapters, in: Jaime Bonet & Diana Ricciuli-Marin (ed.), Casa Grande Caribe, chapter 1, pages 1-50, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Erika Londoño-Ortega & Lina Cardona-Sosa & Luis Daniel Trujillo-Escalante, 2018. "¿Quiénes son los docentes en Colombia? Características generales y brechas regionales," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 276, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.

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    More about this item


    public education; teachers; student performance;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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