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How Long Do Teacher Effects Persist? (WP-07-12)

Spyros Konstantopoulos

Previous findings from experimental and non-experimental studies have demonstrated that teachers differ in their effectiveness. In addition, evidence from non-experimental studies has indicated that teacher effects can last up to five years. This study used high-quality data from a four-year randomized experiment in which teachers and students were randomly assigned to classes to examine whether the teacher effects on student achievement persist over time. Teacher effects are defined as teacher specific residuals adjusted for student and treatment effects. The findings indicate that the teacher effects are cumulative and are not only observed in the current or the following grade, but up to three years in early elementary grades. The findings also suggest that the teacher effects are important and that their additive effects on student achievement are as large as the additive effects of small classes. In addition, the teacher effects are larger in reading than in mathematics. 

This working paper was published in the American Educational Research Journal in 2011.

Spyros Konstantopoulos, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

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