Teacher Quality and Dropout Outcomes in a Large, Urban School District

June 2008


Recent research shows that variation in teacher quality has large effects on student performance. However, this research is based entirely on student test scores. Focusing on high-school math teachers, this paper evaluates teacher quality in terms of another educational outcome of great interest – graduation. The author uses a unique instrumental variables approach to identify teacher effects and find that differences in teacher quality have large effects on graduation outcomes. Because teacher effects on graduation outcomes will be more pronounced for students who are on the graduation margin, the results imply an avenue through which high-quality teachers are more productive with disadvantaged students.

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