Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Effect of Teacher Gender on Student Math Achievement

This paper attempts to reconcile the contradictory results found in the economics literature and the educational psychology literature with respect to the academic impact of gender dynamics in the classroom. Specifically, using data from a randomized experiment, the authors looked at the effects of having a female teacher on the math test scores of students in primary school.

Female students who were assigned to a female teacher without a strong math background suffered from lower math test scores at the end of the academic year. This negative effect however not only seems to disappear but it becomes (marginally) positive for female students who were assigned to a female teacher with a strong math background.

There was no effect of having a female teacher on male students' test scores (math or reading) or female students' reading test scores.

Taken together, the results tentatively suggest that the findings in these two streams of the literature are in fact consistent if one takes into account a teacher's academic background in math.

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