Using twins to look at the impact of the experience of teachers (clue: big)

It’s a bit bizarre to have to find a Dutch study via Best Evidence in Brief, but well, this time I did. This study examines the causal link that runs from classroom quality to student achievement using data on twin pairs who entered the same school but were allocated to different classrooms in an exogenous way.

The authors matched date of birth, family name, and school data from the PRIMA longitudinal study of primary schools in the Netherlands to identify 495 twin pairs. The study used data on twins who went to the same school but were assigned to different classes, enabling researchers to assess teacher quality as the main variable.

The results revealed a “robust finding that students in classrooms with more experienced teachers perform better”. This was particularly true of the early years in a child’s education but not exclusively so. 

A short description:

In particular, we apply twin fixed-effects estimation to assess the effect of teacher quality on student test scores from second through eighth grade, arguing that a change in teacher quality is probably the most important classroom intervention within a twin context. In a series of estimations using measurable teacher characteristics, we find that:

(a) the test performance of all students improve with teacher experience; (b) teacher experience also matters for student performance after the initial years in the profession; (c) the teacher experience effect is most prominent in earlier grades; (d) the teacher experience effects are robust to the inclusion of other classroom quality measures, such as peer group composition and class size; and (e) an increase in teacher experience also matters for career stages with less labor-market mobility which suggests positive returns to on the job training of teachers.

3 thoughts on “Using twins to look at the impact of the experience of teachers (clue: big)

  1. Dat de ervaring van een leerkracht veel impact heeft is al vaker vastgesteld. Hoe stellen we vast ‘ wat ervaring’ is? Is dat drie jaar, vijf jaar, tien jaar? Ervaring in jaren, of ervaring in verschillende groepen of leerjaren? Alleen ervaring met lesgeven, of moeten we dat breder zien.

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