Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher When You Recruit One?

56 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2008 Last revised: 1 Aug 2010

See all articles by Jonah E. Rockoff

Jonah E. Rockoff

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brian Jacob

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2008

Abstract

Research on the relationship between teachers' characteristics and teacher effectiveness has been underway for over a century, yet little progress has been made in linking teacher quality with factors observable at the time of hire. However, most research has examined a relatively small set of characteristics that are collected by school administrators in order to satisfy legal requirements and set salaries. To extend this literature, we administered an in-depth survey to new math teachers in New York City and collected information on a number of non-traditional predictors of effectiveness including teaching specific content knowledge, cognitive ability, personality traits, feelings of self-efficacy, and scores on a commercially available teacher selection instrument. Individually, we find that only a few of these predictors have statistically significant relationships with student and teacher outcomes. However, when all of these variables are combined into two primary factors summarizing cognitive and non-cognitive teacher skills, we find that both factors have a modest and statistically significant relationship with student and teacher outcomes, particularly with student test scores. These results suggest that, while there may be no single factor that can predict success in teaching, using a broad set of measures can help schools improve the quality of their teachers.

Suggested Citation

Rockoff, Jonah E. and Jacob, Brian and Kane, Thomas J. and Staiger, Douglas, Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher When You Recruit One? (November 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14485. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1301933

Jonah E. Rockoff (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brian Jacob

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-384-7968 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-643-2979 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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