Early Bird Catches the Worm: The Causal Impact of Pre-School Participation and Teacher Qualifications on Year 3 National Naplan Cognitive Tests

49 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2013  

Diana Warren

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

John P. Haisken-DeNew

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research; McMaster University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics

Date Written: October 2013

Abstract

Using data from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Children (LSAC), this is the first analysis for Australia to evaluate the impact of attendance at pre-school programs on matched Year 3 nation-wide NAPLAN test outcomes in the domains of Numeracy, Reading, Spelling, Writing and Grammar. We additionally disaggregate the impact of specific teacher qualifications on children’s cognitive outcomes. While one year of learning in Year 3 is represented by about 50 NAPLAN points, we find average pre-school domain effects as much as 10-15 points, mainly driven by the upper quantiles of the NAPLAN distribution. To address causality issues, we use Kernel matching, whereby the ATTs and ATUs are of the magnitude 10 to 20 NAPLAN points, which are reduced only modestly to about 15 points with additional controls for observed ability. NAPLAN score impacts on Numeracy, Reading and Spelling domains are the strongest and significant with the highest increases in NAPLAN scores being attained by children whose pre-school teachers had Diploma or Degree level (high) qualifications, identifying for the first time the crucial nature of teacher qualifications in driving nationally representative long-run pre-school treatment outcomes.

Keywords: ATT, causal impact, pre-school, NAPLAN, specialised qualification

JEL Classification: I21, I28, J24

Suggested Citation

Warren, Diana and Haisken-DeNew, John P., Early Bird Catches the Worm: The Causal Impact of Pre-School Participation and Teacher Qualifications on Year 3 National Naplan Cognitive Tests (October 2013). Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 34/13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2344071

Diana Warren (Contact Author)

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

John P. Haisken-DeNew

The University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

McMaster University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M4
Canada

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