Meeting Nine – The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement

Johannes Metzler and Ludger Woessmann “The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement: Evidence from Within-Teacher Within-Student Variation” IZA Discussion Paper Number 4999 (2010) (.PDF link).

Abstract: Teachers differ greatly in how much they teach their students, but little is known about which teacher attributes account for this. We estimate the causal effect of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement using within-teacher within-student variation, exploiting a unique Peruvian 6th-grade dataset that tested both students and their teachers in two subjects. We circumvent omitted-variable and selection biases using student and teacher fixed effects and observing teachers teaching both subjects in one-classroom-per-grade schools. After measurement-error correction, one standard deviation in subject-specific teacher achievement increases student achievement by about 10 percent of a standard deviation.

Discussion Points:

  • The paper concludes that a 1σ increase in teacher subject knowledge equates to a 0.1σ increase in student achievement. Is this supported by your own experience?
  • Is this paper evidence that non-physics specialists should not be allowed to teach physics?
  • Do you think teachers should be tested on their subject knowledge?
  • How much time and effort have you put into dewveloping your subject knowledge since you started teaching?
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One Response to Meeting Nine – The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement

  1. Ian says:

    Summary for this session is now up on my blog. Hope it’s a useful read, whether you ‘attended’ or not.

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