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Do First Impressions Matter? Improvement in Early Career Teacher Effectiveness

  • Allison Atteberry
  • Susanna Loeb
  • James Wyckoff

Educational policymakers struggle to find ways to improve the quality of the teacher workforce. The early career period represents a unique opportunity to identify struggling teachers, examine the likelihood of future improvement, and make strategic pre-tenure investments in improvement as well as dismissals to increase teaching quality. To date, only a little is known about the dynamics of teacher performance in the first five years. This paper asks how much teachers vary in performance improvement during their first five years of teaching and to what extent initial job performance predicts later performance. We find that, on average, initial performance is quite predictive of future performance, far more so than typically measured teacher characteristics. Predictions are particularly powerful at the extremes. We employ these predictions to explore the likelihood of personnel actions that inappropriately distinguish performance when such predictions are mistaken as well as the much less discussed costs of failure to distinguish performance when meaningful differences exist. The results have important consequences for improving the quality of the teacher workforce.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19096.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19096.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19096
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  13. Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & Jonah Rockoff & James Wyckoff, 2008. "The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(4), pages 793-818.
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  15. Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & Matthew Ronfeldt & James Wyckoff, 2010. "The Role of Teacher Quality in Retention and Hiring: Using Applications-to-Transfer to Uncover Preferences of Teachers and Schools," NBER Working Papers 15966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  21. Pam Grossman & Susanna Loeb & Julia Cohen & Karen Hammerness & James Wyckoff & Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford, 2010. "Measure for Measure: The relationship between measures of instructional practice in middle school English Language Arts and teachers' value-added scores," NBER Working Papers 16015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Dan Goldhaber & Betheny Gross & Daniel Player, 2011. "Teacher career paths, teacher quality, and persistence in the classroom: Are public schools keeping their best?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(1), pages 57-87, December.
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