Changing Labor Market Opportunities for Women and the Quality of Teachers, 1957 - 2000

Corcoran, S., Evans, W.N. & Schwab, R.M.
American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings of the American Economic Association, v. 94, n.2, May 2004

This study focuses on the changing labor-market opportunities for women, and teacher quality in the U.S., from 1957 to 2000. The study data consist of longitudinal surveys of five cohorts of high-school graduates. These five surveys are alike in that they each include results from a questionnaire administered during the senior year. All require participation in a battery of aptitude test scores for all students, which allows us to place graduates into a cohort skill distribution and to assess how the propensity for women or men with high relative scores to enter teaching has changed over time. Despite a small number of cross-sectional study that have examined the characteristics of college graduates choosing to enter teaching, there has been little empirical evidence on how these characteristics have changed over a long period of time. The study found sound evidence of slight but detectable decline in the relative ability of the average new female teacher, when ability is measured as one's centile rank in the distribution of high-school graduates on a standardized test of verbal and mathematical aptitude. The magnitude of this decline is even greater when measuring ability using standardized scores. The study also found that examination of the entire distribution of new teachers is more informative than trends in central tendency alone.

Wagner Faculty