The Impact of Teacher Training on Student Achievement: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from School Reform Efforts in Chicago

April 2002
Brian Jacob, Lars Lefgren

While there is a substantial literature on the relationship between general teacher characteristics and student learning, school districts and states often rely on in-service teacher training as a part of school reform efforts. Recent school reform efforts in Chicago provide an opportunity to examine in-service training using a quasi-experimental research design. In this paper, we use a regression discontinuity strategy to estimate the effect of teacher training on the math and reading performance of elementary students. We find that marginal increases in-service training have no statistically or academically significant effect on either reading or math achievement, suggesting that modest investments in staff development may not be sufficient to increase the achievement of elementary school children in high poverty schools.

We would like to thank the Consortium on Chicago School Research and the Chicago Public Schools for providing the data used in this study. We are grateful to Joshua Angrist, Mark Duggan, Michael Greenstone, Steven Levitt, Brigitte Madrian, and seminar participants at the University of Chicago and BYU for helpful suggestions. All remaining errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Bureau of Economic Research.