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Abstract: This paper documents a new empirical regularity: teacher value-added increases within-teacher when accountability incentives are strengthened. That finding motivates a strategy to separate value-added into incentive-varying teacher effort and incentive-invariant teacher ability, combining rich longitudinal data with exogenous incentive-policy variation from North Carolina. Our estimates indicate that teacher effort and ability both raise current and future test scores, with ability having stronger effects. These estimates feed into a framework for comparing the cost-effectiveness of alternative education policies. For illustration, we show incentive-oriented reforms can outperform policies targeting teacher ability, given their potential to influence all teachers rather than a subset.
Keywords: Incentives, Teacher Performance, Value-Added, Effort, Ability, Education Production, Accountability, Education Policy, Cost-Effectiveness, Persistence
JEL Classification: I21; J24; M52