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Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measurement in Education

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  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Lars Lefgren

Abstract

In this paper, we compare subjective principal assessments of teachers to the traditional determinants of teacher compensation ¡V education and experience ¡V and another potential compensation mechanism -- value-added measures of teacher effectiveness based on student achievement gains. We find that subjective principal assessments of teachers predict future student achievement significantly better than teacher experience, education or actual compensation, though not as well as value-added teacher quality measures. In particular, principals appear quite good at identifying those teachers who produce the largest and smallest standardized achievement gains in their schools, but have far less ability to distinguish between teachers in the middle of this distribution and systematically discriminate against male and untenured faculty. Moreover, we find that a principal¡'s overall rating of a teacher is a substantially better predictor of future parent requests for that teacher than either the teacher¡'s experience, education and current compensation or the teacher¡'s value-added achievement measure. These findings not only inform education policy, but also shed light on subjective performance assessment more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measurement in Education," NBER Working Papers 11463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11463
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    2. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin & Daniel M. O'Brien, 2005. "The Market for Teacher Quality," Discussion Papers 04-025, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    4. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2000. "What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and House Prices," NBER Working Papers 8019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
    6. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    7. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
    8. Figlio, David N. & Winicki, Joshua, 2005. "Food for thought: the effects of school accountability plans on school nutrition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 381-394, February.
    9. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2007. "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1603-1637.
    10. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
    11. Daniel G. Sullivan, 2001. "A note on the estimation of linear regression models with Heteroskedastic measurement errors," Working Paper Series WP-01-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    12. Hanushek, E.A.omson, W., 1996. "Assessing the Effects of School Resources on Student Performance : An Update," RCER Working Papers 424, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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