From the Field

Research Notes: How Teachers Influence Students’ Post Secondary Outcomes

Some teachers help students improve their standardized test scores, while others are more likely to influence such factors as course grades, suspensions, attendance, and promotion to the next grade. Which sort of teacher is better for getting into a good college?

In a new working paper from National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), authors Ben Backes, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, and Roddy Theobald conclude that both types of teachers can affect college-going rates, but the results are different depending on student achievement and demographics.

For high-achieving students, teachers with more impact on test scores can influence attendance at more selective colleges. In contrast, teachers adept at moving “nontest” measures have greater influence on whether students graduate from high school and enroll in college at all.

An important takeaway from the research is that different “value-added measures” for assessing teacher quality are relevant for different types of students. Rather than focus entirely on test scores in evaluating teacher effectiveness and assigning classes, schools should assess impact on a range of measures.