Kirabo Jackson Finds Teacher Match, Student Pay Spur Achievement

Kirabo Jackson Finds Teacher Match, Student Pay Spur Achievement

Kirabo Jackson

New research by economist and SESP assistant professor Kirabo Jackson targets factors that improve teacher effectiveness and student performance. One study investigates the importance of the match between teachers and schools for student achievement. Other research considers the impact of financial incentives such as paying students for high test scores.

His teacher effectiveness research, conducted in North Carolina, finds that the quality of the match between teachers and schools has a significant impact on student achievement. 

To begin with, he documents that teacher effectiveness — as measured by improvements in student test scores — increases after a teacher moves to a different school. Preliminary results show that between one-quarter and one-half of what is typically measured as a teacher effect is, in fact, due to the specific teacher-school pairing, in other words, the match between a specific teacher and a specific school context.

Moreover, he finds that match quality is as important as teacher quality in explaining student achievement.

In related work, he is also analyzing how the opening of a charter school affects teacher turnover, hiring, effectiveness and salaries at nearby traditional public schools. By analyzing a variety of teacher outcomes, he hopes to create a comprehensive picture of how launching charter schools affects both the demand for and supply of teachers at existing traditional public schools.

With Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote, Jackson is continuing his work examining the impact of paying students for performance. His new study focuses on the short- and long-term impact of a New York City program that pays high school seniors for achieving a score of 3, 4, or 5 on Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

He has already found significant impact of a similar program in Texas, which pays low-income and minority students for scoring well on their AP tests. The Texas study shows that schools offering students $100 to $500 for scores of 3 or higher have more students taking AP courses, more scoring well, and 8 percent more going to college. In addition, Texas students’ SAT and ACT scores rose by 30 percent.

In a follow-up study tracking students through college, he finds that those students who received incentives in high school attend college in greater numbers, are more likely to remain in college beyond their freshman year and have better GPAs. He also uncovers evidence of increased college graduation rates for black and Hispanic students. Findings from the Texas study were published in the Journal of Human Resources.

By Marilyn Sherman and Institute for Policy Research
Last Modified: 10/2/13