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The Impact of Teacher Demographic Representation on Student Attendance and Suspensions

Author

Listed:
  • Holt, Stephen B.

    (University at Albany, SUNY)

  • Gershenson, Seth

    (American University)

Abstract

Representative bureaucracy theory is central to public administration scholarship due to the likely relationship between the demographic composition of the public workforce and both the actual and perceived performance of public organizations. Primary school classrooms provide an ideal context in which to test the predictions of representative bureaucracy theory at the micro (student) level. Specifically, since parents have at least some agency over primary school students' daily attendance, absences reflect parental assessments of their child's school, classroom, and teacher. The representativeness of the teacher workforce, and specifically that of the student's classroom teacher, is therefore likely to influence student absenteeism. Similarly, student suspensions reflect students' relationships with their teacher, students' comfort level in the classroom, and teachers' discretion in the referral of misbehavior. These academically and socially important outcomes provide convenient, objective measures of behaviors that are likely influenced by street-level representation. Using longitudinal student-level administrative data from the North Carolina, we use a two-way (student and classroom) fixed effects strategy to identify the impact of student-teacher demographic mismatch on primary school students' absences and suspensions. We find that representation among street-level bureaucrats significantly decreases both absenteeism and suspensions and that these effects can be given a causal interpretation. The introduction of two-way fixed effects estimators to public administration scholarship is a secondary contribution of the current study.

Suggested Citation

  • Holt, Stephen B. & Gershenson, Seth, 2015. "The Impact of Teacher Demographic Representation on Student Attendance and Suspensions," IZA Discussion Papers 9554, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9554
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Seah, Kelvin, 2021. "Do Ethnically-Congruent Teachers Really Matter Little for Hispanic Students? A Re-Examination of the Data," IZA Discussion Papers 14516, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Ellis, Jimmy R. & Gershenson, Seth, 2016. "LATE for the Meeting: Gender, Peer Advising, and College Success," IZA Discussion Papers 9956, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Holt, Stephen B. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2016. "Who believes in me? The effect of student–teacher demographic match on teacher expectationsAuthor-Name: Gershenson, Seth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 209-224.
    4. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2017. "Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in the Labor Market for Child Care Teachers," IZA Discussion Papers 11140, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    elementary education; student absences; representative bureaucracy; teacher workforce;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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