Reports 2017/39

Effect of extra teacher in lower secondary school

This publication is in Norwegian only.

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In the autumn of 2012, the Norwegian parliament granted 1.5 billion kroner for 600 new teacher positions in lower secondary school over the next four years. This report studies effects on resource use, learning outcomes and learning environment, and provides a description of how the initiative is implemented and experienced by involved principals, teachers and students.

The effect evaluation studies resource utilization of the schools and the pupils' learning outcomes using register data, as well as the learning environment as measured by a large student survey. We find a clear effect on student teacher ratios. Student teacher ratios in regular classes is reduced by about two students per teacher, or about 10 percent. This corresponds to what we expect from the additional teachers the schools receive. There are no signs of effects on use of teaching assistants, special education or special language training, nor of redistribution of other resources between schools or grade Levels.

We do not find any significant effects on the students' learning outcomes, neither on exam grades, standardized test scores, absenteeism or early measures of progression in upper secondary education. We can rule out even small effects: A possible effect on average exam grades is less than about 0.06 grade points (about 0.05 standard deviations). We find no clear effects for groups of students (eg, students with weak previous results) or for groups of schools (eg schools that use resources in certain ways). As we have tested many different sources of heterogeneity in effects without finding signs other than zero effects, the conclusion is that increased funds for more teachers at best have had very small impact on learning outcomes as very robust.

In the student survey we do not find clear effects on the learning environment (eg students’ well-being, teacher support and assessment of learning), but the these analyzes give less clear results than the analysis of learning outcomes. We consistently find less bullying and more beneficial values on the other indices in schools that received extra teachers than in the control schools. However, the differences are not significant, and may reflect random variability. Estimated effects are also modest, about 0.06 standard deviations or less.

The implementation study is based on a questionnaire sent to schools who received extra teachers and interviews at a small number of schools. In the questionnaire, the principals responded, inter alia, to the way in which the positions were used and the effect they perceived that the initiative had. The extra positions are allocated evenly across classes and grade levels, and especially used in teaching of mathematics, Norwegian and to some extent English. Organization varies across schools, with increased use of e.g. small group teaching and teacher aides in larger classes.

In the interviews, principals, teachers and students have described their experiences with the initiative as well as school life more in general. Extra teachers are welcomed by both principals and teachers, and are also believed to impact both on the teachers' working conditions, the students' learning outcomes and the learning environment. Both teachers and students appreciate the use of small groups. Streaming or ability grouping is mostly not seen to stigmatize students.

We conclude the report with a discussion of the mismatch between the perceived effect and the results of the effect evaluation, as well as of how our evaluation relates to other ongoing research on the same theme and what lessons it provides for future policy Development.

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