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Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measures in Education

68 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2005  

Brian Jacob

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lars John Lefgren

Brigham Young University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 2005

Abstract

In this paper, we compare subjective principal assessments of teachers to the traditional determinants of teacher compensation - education and experience - and another potential compensation mechanism - value-added measures of teacher effectiveness based on student achievement gains. We find that subjective principal assessments of teachers predict future student achievement significantly better than teacher experience, education or actual compensation, though not as well as value-added teacher quality measures. In particular, principals appear quite good at identifying those teachers who produce the largest and smallest standardized achievement gains in their schools, but have far less ability to distinguish between teachers in the middle of this distribution and systematically discriminate against male and untenured faculty. Moreover, we find that a principal's overall rating of a teacher is a substantially better predictor of future parent requests for that teacher than either the teacher's experience, education and current compensation or the teacher's value-added achievement measure. These findings not only inform education policy, but also shed light on subjective performance assessment more generally.

Keywords: Education Policy

JEL Classification: I20, I28, J30, J70

Suggested Citation

Jacob, Brian and Lefgren, Lars John, Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measures in Education (June 2005). KSG Working Paper No. RWP05-040. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=757356 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.757356

Brian Jacob (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-384-7968 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lars John Lefgren

Brigham Young University - Department of Economics ( email )

130 Faculty Office Bldg.
Provo, UT 84602-2363
United States

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