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One size fits all? The effects of teacher cognitive and non-cognitive abilities on student achievement

Author

Listed:
  • Grönqvist, Erik

    () (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Vlachos, Jonas

    () (Department of Economics, Stockholm University)

Abstract

Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the lower parts of the general ability distribution, but it is not clear how this affects student achievement. We track the position of entering teachers in population-wide cognitive and non-cognitive ability distributions using school grades and draft records from Swedish registers. The impact on student achievement caused by the position of teachers in these ability distributions is estimated using matched student-teacher data. On average, teachers’ cognitive and non-cognitive social interactive abilities do not have a positive effect on student performance. However, social interactive ability turns out to be important for low aptitude students, whilst the reverse holds for cognitive abilities. In fact, while high performing students benefit from high cognitive teachers, being matched to such a teacher can even be detrimental to their lower performing peers. Hence, the lower abilities among teachers may hurt some students, whereas others may even benefit. High cognitive and non-cognitive abilities thus need not necessarily translate into teacher quality. Instead, these heterogeneities highlight the importance of the student-teacher matching process.

Suggested Citation

  • Grönqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2008. "One size fits all? The effects of teacher cognitive and non-cognitive abilities on student achievement," Working Paper Series 2008:25, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2008_025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Håkanson, Christina & Lindqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2015. "Firms and Skills: The Evolution of Worker Sorting," Working Paper Series 1072, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Andersson, Christian & Johansson, Per & Waldenström, Nina, 2011. "Do you want your child to have a certified teacher?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 65-78, February.
    3. Öhman, Mattias, 2015. "Be smart, live long: the relationship between cognitive and non-cognitive abilities and mortality," Working Paper Series 2015:21, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Mellander, Erik, 2014. "Transparency of human resource policy," Working Paper Series 2014:24, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    5. Erik Lindqvist, 2012. "Height and Leadership," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 1191-1196.
    6. Åslund, Olof & Engdahl, Mattias, 2013. "1 Open borders, transport links and local labor markets," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    7. Lena Lindahl, 2011. "A comparison of family and neighborhood effects on grades, test scores, educational attainment and income—evidence from Sweden," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 207-226.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive and non-cognitive ability; teacher quality; student achievement;

    JEL classification:

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

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