Do First Impressions Matter? Improvement in Early Career Teacher Effectiveness

55 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2013

See all articles by Allison Atteberry

Allison Atteberry

University of Virginia

Susanna Loeb

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James Wyckoff

University of Virginia

Date Written: June 2013

Abstract

Educational policymakers struggle to find ways to improve the quality of the teacher workforce. The early career period represents a unique opportunity to identify struggling teachers, examine the likelihood of future improvement, and make strategic pre-tenure investments in improvement as well as dismissals to increase teaching quality. To date, only a little is known about the dynamics of teacher performance in the first five years. This paper asks how much teachers vary in performance improvement during their first five years of teaching and to what extent initial job performance predicts later performance. We find that, on average, initial performance is quite predictive of future performance, far more so than typically measured teacher characteristics. Predictions are particularly powerful at the extremes. We employ these predictions to explore the likelihood of personnel actions that inappropriately distinguish performance when such predictions are mistaken as well as the much less discussed costs of failure to distinguish performance when meaningful differences exist. The results have important consequences for improving the quality of the teacher workforce.

Suggested Citation

Atteberry, Allison and Loeb, Susanna and Wyckoff, James, Do First Impressions Matter? Improvement in Early Career Teacher Effectiveness (June 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19096, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2276360

Allison Atteberry (Contact Author)

University of Virginia ( email )

No Address Available

Susanna Loeb

Stanford University ( email )

School of Education 402P CERAS, 520 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-725-4262 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James Wyckoff

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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