Working Papers

Working Paper
Burgess, Simon, Shenila Rawal, and Eric S. Taylor. Working Paper. “Teacher peer observation and student test scores: Evidence from a field experiment in English secondary schools.”.Abstract

This paper reports improvements in teacher job performance, as measured by student test scores, resulting from a program of (zero-) low-stakes peer evaluation. Teachers working at the same school observed and scored each other’s teaching. Students in randomly-assigned treatment schools scored 0.07σ higher on math and English exams (0.09σ lower-bound TOT). Within each treatment school, teachers were further randomly assigned to roles: observer and observee. Teachers in both roles improved, perhaps slightly more for observers. The typical treatment school completed 2-3 observations per observee teacher. Variation in observations was generated partly by randomly assigning a low and high (2*low) dose of suggested number of observations. Benefits were quite similar across dose conditions.

Taylor, Eric S. Working Paper. “New Technology and Teacher Productivity”.Abstract

I study the effects of a labor-replacing computer technology on the productivity of classroom teachers. Focusing on one occupation—and a setting where both workers and their job responsibilities remain fixed—provides an opportunity to examine the heterogeneity of effects on individual productivity. In a series of field-experiments, teachers were provided computer-aided instruction (CAI) software for use in their classrooms; CAI provides individualized tutoring and practice to students one-on-one with the computer acting as the teacher. In math classes, CAI reduces by one-fifth the variance of teacher productivity, as measured by student test score gains. The smaller variance comes both from productivity improvements for otherwise low-performing teachers, but also losses among high-performers. The change in productivity partly reflects changes in teachers’ level of work effort and teachers’ decisions about how to allocate class time. How computers affect teacher decisions and productivity is immediately relevant to both ongoing education policy debates about teaching quality and the day-to-day management of a large workforce.