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A teacher who knows me: The academic benefits of repeat student-teacher matches

, Montana State University, United States ; , University of South Carolina, United States

Economics of Education Review Volume 64, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We provide new empirical evidence that increased student-teacher familiarity improves academic achievement in elementary school. Drawing on rich statewide administrative data, we observe small but significant test score gains for students assigned to the same teacher for a second time in a higher grade. We control for selection into repeat student-teacher matches with teacher fixed effects and either student fixed effects or flexible controls for student past achievement. The effects are largest for minorities, and there is some evidence that gains are most evident for students with generally less effective teachers (as measured by value-added). We also provide suggestive evidence of spillover benefits: students assigned to classes in which a large share of classmates are in repeat student-teacher matches experience gains even if not previously assigned to that teacher themselves. This suggests that effects at least partly operate through improvements in the general classroom learning environment. Overall, our findings indicate that there may be potential low-cost gains from the policy of “looping” in which students and teachers progress through early school grades together, and may explain the recent experimental evidence that teacher specialization has negative effects on student achievement given that this likely decreases student-teacher familiarity.


Hill, A.J. & Jones, D.B. (2018). A teacher who knows me: The academic benefits of repeat student-teacher matches. Economics of Education Review, 64(1), 1-12. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved June 1, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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