One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement
43 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2008 Last revised: 24 Jun 2010
Date Written: December 2, 2008
We document a substantial decline in the position of entering teachers in population-wide cognitive and non-cognitive ability distributions, as well as the upper-secondary school grade (GPA) distribution. Next, we estimate the causal impact on student achievement using matched student-teacher data. On average, a teacher’s position in these ability distributions has a negligible impact on student achievement but this hides important heterogeneities. An increase in teacher cognitive abilities tends to increase the achievement gap between high and low aptitude students, while an increase in non-cognitive ability tends to reduce it. We find strong positive effects by the position of male teachers in the GPA distribution, uniform across students, but no such effects are found for female teachers. These heterogeneities highlight the potential for gender specific selection processes into teaching, and the importance of student-teacher matching.
Keywords: Cognitive and non-cognitive ability, Teacher quality, Student achievement
JEL Classification: I21, H4, J4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation