The "Pupil" Factory: Specialization and the Production of Human Capital in Schools
Roland G. Fryer Jr.
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
I conducted a randomized field experiment in traditional public elementary
schools in Houston, Texas designed to test the potential productivity benefits of
teacher specialization. The average impact of encouraging schools to specialize
their teachers on student achievement is –0.11 standard deviations per year on a
combined index of math and reading test scores. I argue that the results are
consistent with a model in which the benefits of specialization driven by sorting
teachers into a subset of subjects based on comparative advantage is outweighed
by inefficient pedagogy due to having fewer interactions with each student,
though other mechanisms are possible.
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