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The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood

  • Raj Chetty
  • John N. Friedman
  • Jonah E. Rockoff

Are teachers' impacts on students' test scores ("value-added") a good measure of their quality? This question has sparked debate largely because of disagreement about (1) whether value-added (VA) provides unbiased estimates of teachers' impacts on student achievement and (2) whether high-VA teachers improve students' long-term outcomes. We address these two issues by analyzing school district data from grades 3-8 for 2.5 million children linked to tax records on parent characteristics and adult outcomes. We find no evidence of bias in VA estimates using previously unobserved parent characteristics and a quasi-experimental research design based on changes in teaching staff. Students assigned to high-VA teachers are more likely to attend college, attend higher- ranked colleges, earn higher salaries, live in higher SES neighborhoods, and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to have children as teenagers. Teachers have large impacts in all grades from 4 to 8. On average, a one standard deviation improvement in teacher VA in a single grade raises earnings by about 1% at age 28. Replacing a teacher whose VA is in the bottom 5% with an average teacher would increase the present value of students' lifetime income by more than $250,000 for the average class- room in our sample. We conclude that good teachers create substantial economic value and that test score impacts are helpful in identifying such teachers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17699.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff. 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers I: Evaluating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates." American Economic Review, 104(9): 2593-2632.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17699
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. Gadi Barlevy & Derek Neal, 2012. "Pay for Percentile," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1805-31, August.
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  12. James J. Heckman & Seong Hyeok Moon & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev & Adam Yavitz, 2010. "Analyzing Social Experiments as Implemented: A Reexamination of the Evidence From the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," Working Papers 201034, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  13. James J. Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev, 2012. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 12-00011, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
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  15. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
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