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High-Stakes Accountability and Teacher Turnover: how do different school inspection judgements affect teachers' decisions to leave their school?


  • Sam Sims

    () (Department of Social Science, University College London)


High teacher turnover damages pupil attainment (Borg et al., 2012; Ronfeldt et al., 2012). But while the effects of pupil and teacher characteristics on turnover are well documented, relatively little attention has been paid to the impact of the accountability system. This paper is the first to evaluate the effect on turnover of schools receiving different judgements from the English national schools inspectorate, Ofsted. Theoretically, the effects of inspection judgements are ambiguous. An 'Inadequate' rating may harm teachers' self-efficacy, increasing the chance of them leaving their current school. On the other hand, an 'Inadequate' rating provides a negative signal about the quality of teachers working in that school, decreasing the chance of them finding employment elsewhere. I use a difference in difference approach to estimate this empirically and find that an 'Inadequate' rating leads to an increase in turnover of 3.4 percentage points. By contrast, schools receiving an 'Outstanding' rating see no change in turnover. The results are robust to a number of specifications, sample restrictions and a placebo test.

Suggested Citation

  • Sam Sims, 2016. "High-Stakes Accountability and Teacher Turnover: how do different school inspection judgements affect teachers' decisions to leave their school?," DoQSS Working Papers 16-14, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1614

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Teacher turnover; high-stakes accountability; school inspection; efficacy; signalling;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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