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Teacher characteristics and student performance in India: A pupil fixed effects approach

  • Geeta Gandhi Kingdon

This paper exploits unique data that permits the matching of students` test scores in different subjects to the teachers that teach those subjects. Within-pupil (across-subject, rather than across-time) variation is used to examine whether the characteristics of different subject teachers are related to a students` marks across subjects. There are four main contributions. Firstly the findings, using a credible methodology for identification, give only modest grounds for optimism about the effects of teacher policies. A teacher`s possession of Masters level qualification and pre-service training have well identified but small effects on student achievement. While a teacher`s union membership strongly reduces pupil achievement, union membership is typically not a policy variable. The bulk of the variation in student achievement is a school fixed effect and observed school characteristics explain less than 30% of this fixed effect. The second main contribution of the paper is to highlight the importance of `controlling for` the non-random matching of students to schools and teachers. The finding that within-pupil effects of many teacher variables differ very significantly from the across school effects indicates that much of the extant achievement production function literature - which perforce relies on across school estimation - leads to incorrect inferences because it confounds the effect of unobserved school and pupil heterogeneity with the effect of teacher characteristics. This underlines the importance of finding credible sources of within school and preferably within-student variation in future research. Thirdly, the paper showcases the use of an across-subject estimator of the achievement production function which is similar to the more familiar panel data approach but which circumvents the problem of non-random attrition of students/teachers over time and the problem of non-random matching of students to teachers, and which permits the identification of teacher effects in cross-section data that are readily available. Finally, a school fixed effects equation of teacher pay shows that while teacher compensation is efficient in some respects, i.e. teachers are rewarded for characteristics that raise student achievement, it is not so in other respects. In particular, union membership is substantially rewarded when in fact it is associated with signficantly lower student achievement, raising the question whether teachers` right to unionize pits teacher interests against student interests.

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File URL: http://www.gprg.org/pubs/workingpapers/pdfs/gprg-wps-059.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-059.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-059
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 158-165, May.
  2. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
  3. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "American Education Research Changes Tack," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 198-212, Summer.
  5. Michael Kremer, 2003. "Randomized Evaluations of Educational Programs in Developing Countries: Some Lessons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 102-106, May.
  6. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F34-F63, February.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  8. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
  9. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 11936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1999. "Do Higher Salaries Buy Better Teachers?," NBER Working Papers 7082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Failure of Input-based Schooling Policies," NBER Working Papers 9040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Michael Kremer, 2003. "Teacher Incentives," NBER Working Papers 9671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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