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The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains

  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Lars Lefgren
  • David Sims

Educational interventions are often narrowly targeted and temporary, and evaluations often focus on the short-run impacts of the intervention. Insofar as the positive effects of educational interventions fadeout over time, however, such assessments may be misleading. In this paper, we develop a simple statistical framework to empirically assess the persistence of treatment effects in education. To begin, we present a simple model of student learning that incorporates permanent as well as transitory learning gains. Using this model, we demonstrate how the parameter of interest - the persistence of a particular measurable education input - can be recovered via instrumental variables as a particular local average treatment effect. We initially motivate this strategy in the context of teacher quality, but then generalize the model to consider educational interventions more generally. Using administrative data that links students and teachers, we construct measures of teacher effectiveness and then estimate the persistence of these teacher value-added measures on student test scores. We find that teacher-induced gains in math and reading achievement quickly erode. In most cases, our point estimates suggest a one-year persistence of about one-fifth and rule out a one-year persistence rate higher than one-third.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14065.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Jacob, Brian, Lefgren, Lars and David Sims. (2010). "The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains." Journal of Human Resources 45(4): 915-943.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14065
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
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  1. Currie, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Does Head Start make a Difference?," Papers 95-10, RAND - Reprint Series.
  2. Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Zajonc, Tristan, 2009. "Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics," Scholarly Articles 4435671, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers," NBER Working Papers 11494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
  6. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2002. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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).
  8. Jesse Rothstein, 2007. "Do Value-Added Models Add Value? Tracking, Fixed Effects, and Causal Inference," Working Papers 1036, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  9. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F64-F98, February.
  10. Tim R. Sass, 2006. "Charter Schools and Student Achievement in Florida," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-122, January.
  11. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2008. "Can Principals Identify Effective Teachers? Evidence on Subjective Performance Evaluation in Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26, pages 101-136.
  13. 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.
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