Research / BFI Working PaperJul 26, 2022

The Effects of Teacher Quality on Adult Criminal Justice Contact

Evan Rose, Jonathan T. Schellenberg, Yotam Shem-Tov

This paper estimates teachers’ impacts on their students’ future criminal justice contact (CJC). Using a unique data set linking the universe of North Carolina public school data to administrative arrest records, we find a standard deviation of teacher effects on students’ future arrests of 2.7 percentage points (11% of the sample mean). Teachers’ effects on CJC are orthogonal to their effects on academic achievement, implying assignment to a high test score value-added teacher does not reduce future CJC. However, teachers who reduce suspensions and improve attendance substantially reduce future arrests. Similar patterns emerge when allowing teacher impacts to vary by student sex, race, socio-economic status, and school. The results suggest that the development of non-cognitive skills is central to the returns to education for crime and highlight an important dimension of teachers’ social value missed by test score-based quality metrics.