The Effect of Occupational Licensing Stringency on the Teacher Quality Distribution
74 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020 Last revised: 10 Jun 2022
Date Written: December 2020
Concerned about the low academic ability of public school teachers, in the 1990s and 2000s, some states increased licensing stringency to weed out low-quality candidates, while others decreased restrictions to attract high-quality candidates. We offer a theoretical model justifying both reactions. Using data from 1991–2007 on licensing requirements and teacher quality—as measured by the selectivity of teachers’ undergraduate institutions—we find that stricter licensing requirements, especially those emphasizing academic coursework, increase the left tail of the quality distribution for secondary school teachers without significantly decreasing quality for high-minority or high-poverty districts.
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