Information and Employee Evaluation: Evidence from a Randomized Intervention in Public Schools

55 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010

See all articles by Jonah E. Rockoff

Jonah E. Rockoff

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

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; 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)

Eric S. Taylor

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2010

Abstract

The evidence that productivity varies greatly across teachers has given rise to the idea that student achievement data should be included in performance evaluation, despite limited empirical evidence on subjective evaluation or the use of objective performance measures in U.S. public schools. In this paper, we examine the results of a randomized pilot program in which school principals were provided with estimates of the performance of individual teachers in raising their students' test scores in math and English. Our analysis establishes several facts consistent with a simple Bayesian learning model of employee evaluation in the presence of imperfect information. First, objective teacher performance estimates based on student data and principals' prior beliefs are positively correlated, and the strength of this relationship rises with the precision of the objective estimates and the precision of subjective priors. Second, principals who are provided with objective performance data incorporate this information into their posterior beliefs, and do so to a greater extent when the data are more precise and when their priors are less precise. Moreover, after the provision of performance data, the probability of job separation rises for teachers with low performance estimates, and, in line with this change in attrition patterns, student achievement exhibits small improvements the following year. These results suggest that objective performance data provides useful information to principals in constructing employee evaluations and using these evaluations to improve productivity.

Suggested Citation

Rockoff, Jonah E. and Staiger, Douglas and Kane, Thomas J. and Taylor, Eric S., Information and Employee Evaluation: Evidence from a Randomized Intervention in Public Schools (July 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16240. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1651424

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

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

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

Eric S. Taylor

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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