In discussions about the quality and equity of our educational system, one thing lost in political arguments about unions and ideological bias and No Child Left Behind is empirical data of what difference teachers make in actual education.

A special issue of Public Finance Review tackles the impact of teachers, focusing especially on the hiring and retention of qualified teachers, including in disadvantaged districts.

Some of the topics addressed:

  • Is there a link between out-of-field teachers and student achievement
  • Does the No Child Left Behind testing mandate affect teacher turnover?
  • How do salaries affect teacher attrition?
  • How effective are teacher recruitment practices?

Mandated testing, for example, looked at fourth-grade teachers in New York State public elementary schools and found that the introduction of mandated testing resulted in less teacher turnover and more experienced teachers.

Regarding out-of-field teachers, the study found that teachers certified in subjects resulted in students with higher scores, but only in social studies and mathematics. However, subject-certified teachers were not more effective at promoting the intellectual engagement of their students but were more likely to have negative opinions of a given student's performance.

For a limited time you can download all the papers free of charge at


Donald Boyd, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff, The Impact of Assessment and Accountability on Teacher Recruitment and Retention, Public Finance Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 88-111 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/1091142106293446

Thomas S. Dee, Sarah R. Cohodes, Out-of-Field Teachers and Student Achievement, Public Finance Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 7-32 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/1091142106289330