Non-Cognitive Ability, Test Scores, and Teacher Quality: Evidence from 9th Grade Teachers in North Carolina (WP-12-18)


IPR-WP-12-18

Kirabo Jackson

In this working paper, Jackson presents a model where students have cognitive and non-cognitive ability and a teacher’s effect on long-run outcomes is a combination of his or her effect on both ability types. Conditional on cognitive scores, an underlying non-cognitive factor associated with student absences, suspensions, grades, and grade progression is strongly correlated with long-run educational attainment, arrests, and earnings in survey data. In administrative data, teachers have meaningful causal effects on both test scores and the non-cognitive factor. Calculations indicate that teacher effects based on test scores alone fail to identify many excellent teachers, and may greatly understate the importance of teachers on adult outcomes.


Kirabo Jackson, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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