Friday, 11 June 2010

Does professor quality matter?

The question is asked by Scott E. Carrell and James E. West in a paper in the Journal of Political Economy. The answer?
In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow-on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow-on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.
But what incentives do the profs have? Basically to get their evaluations up, to hell with what happens after.

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