One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement

Posted: 17 Feb 2009

See all articles by Erik Gronqvist

Erik Gronqvist

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation

Jonas Vlachos

Stockholm University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2008

Abstract

Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the lower parts of the general ability distribution, but it is not clear how this affects student achievement. We track the position of entering teachers in population-wide cognitive and non-cognitive ability distributions using school grades and draft records from Swedish registers. The impact on student achievement caused by the position of teachers in these ability distributions is estimated using matched student-teacher data. On average, teachers' cognitive and non-cognitive social interactive abilities do not have a positive effect on student performance. However, social interactive ability turns out to be important for low aptitude students, whilst the reverse holds for cognitive abilities. In fact, while high performing students benefit from high cognitive teachers, being matched to such a teacher can even be detrimental to their lower performing peers. Hence, the lower abilities among teachers may hurt some students, whereas others may even benefit. High cognitive and non-cognitive abilities thus need not necessarily translate into teacher quality. Instead, these heterogeneities highlight the importance of the student-teacher matching process.

Keywords: Cognitive and non-cognitive ability, Student achievement, Teacher quality

JEL Classification: H4, I21, J4

Suggested Citation

Gronqvist, Erik and Vlachos, Jonas, One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement (December 2008). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7086. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1344665

Erik Gronqvist (Contact Author)

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden

Jonas Vlachos

Stockholm University - Department of Economics ( email )

Stockholm, 10691
Sweden

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

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