Research / BFI Working PaperJun 05, 2018

How Does School Accountability Affect Teachers? Evidence from New York City

Does holding schools accountable for student performance cause good teachers to leave low-performing schools? Using data from New York City, which assigns accountability grades to schools based on student achievement, I perform a regression discontinuity analysis and find evidence of the opposite effect. At the bottom end of the school grade distribution, I find that a lower accountability grade decreases teacher turnover and increases joining teachers’ quality. A likely channel is that accountability pressures induce increases in principal effort at lower-graded schools, especially among high-quality principals, and teachers value these changes. In contrast, at the top end of the school grade distribution, where accountability pressures are lower, low accountability grades may negatively impact joining teachers’ quality.

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