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Engaging Teachers: Measuring the Impact of Teachers on Attendance

Most research on teacher effectiveness looks at student achievement, specifically test score gains. Yet, teachers’ impact on their students non-achievement outcomes is also significant. Two researchers from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, Jing Liu and Susanna Loeb focus on attendance at the secondary school level, since students at that level are more likely than their parents to make the decision to attend class. The results of their research are outlined in a report titled, Engaging Teachers: Measuring the Impact of Teachers on Student Attendance in Secondary School.

Liu and Loeb cite that on average, secondary students are absent from school about three weeks each year. Their research finds, however, that teachers can have large effects or added value on student attendance. Holding all other variables constant, students would have approximately 44 percent fewer unexcused absences in math classes and 54 percent fewer in English with certain teachers who are above average on the value they added for attendance. These teachers are associated with more students taking Advanced Placement courses and graduating. The impact is especially strong for students struggling with academics or attendance.