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CEP discussion paper

Teacher quality, test scores and non-cognitive skills: evidence from primary school teachers in the UK


Schooling can produce both cognitive and non-cognitive skills, both of which are important determinants of adult outcomes. Using very rich data from a UK birth cohort study, I estimate teacher value added (VA) models for both pupils' test scores and non-cognitive skills. I show that teachers are equally important in the determination of pupils' test scores and non-cognitive skills. This finding extends the economics literature on teacher effects, which has primarily focused on pupils' test scores and may fail to capture teachers' overall effects. In addition, the large estimates reveal an interesting trade-off: teacher VA on pupils' test scores are weak predictors of teacher VA on non-cognitive skills, which suggests that teachers recourse to different techniques to improve pupils' cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Finally, I find that teachers' effects on pupils' non-cognitive skills have long-run impacts on adult outcomes such as higher education attendance, employment and earnings, conditional on their effects on test scores. This result indicates that long-run outcomes are improved by a combination of teachers increasing pupils' test scores and non-cognitive skills and has large policy implications.


Sarah Flèche

28 March 2017     Paper Number CEPDP1472

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.

This publication comes under the following theme: Wellbeing Policy