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Spread Too Thin: The Effects of Teacher Specialization on Student Achievement

Although the majority of elementary school teachers are in self-contained classrooms and teach all major subjects, a growing number of teachers specialize in teaching fewer subjects to higher numbers of students. We use administrative data from Indiana to estimate the effect of teacher specialization on teacher and school effectiveness in elementary schools. We find that teacher specialization leads to lower teaching effectiveness in math and reading, and the negative effects are larger when teaching students who are more likely to experience difficulties in school. Moreover, we find no evidence that increasing the proportion of teacher specialists at the school level generates improvements in indicators of school quality.

teacher specialization, student-teacher relationship, teaching effectiveness
Education level
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EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Hwang, NaYoung, and Brian Kisida. (). Spread Too Thin: The Effects of Teacher Specialization on Student Achievement. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-477). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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