March 27, 2004

Postrel on Teachers

In her New York Times column, Virginia Postrel points to some interesting studies about Getting the Most Out of the Nation's Teachers.

One study she cites, "Pulled Away or Pushed Out? Explaining the Decline of Teacher Aptitude in the United States" [PDF], attempts to explain why teacher aptitude, i.e. "teachers' propensity to be in the top achievement quartile" of academic aptitude, has fallen so much since 1960. The study examines two explanations: 1) that better opportunities and pay parity in other fields have siphoned off the best and brightest and 2) the compressed salary ranges due to increased unionization have led to equal pay regardless of merit, pushing the best out of teaching. The results? The compressed salaries can, surprisingly, explain 80% of the change in teacher aptitude (as measured by test score proxies).

While I obviously can't vouch for the econometric methodology, interesting results nonetheless.

The economist cited, Caroline Hoxby from Harvard, has a web page listing her other papers on education policy and funding, several of which are equally interesting.

Posted by richard at March 27, 2004 02:56 PM