Do Teacher Assistants Improve Student Outcomes? Evidence From School Funding Cutbacks in North Carolina
This article examines the influence of teacher assistants and other personnel on outcomes for elementary school students during a period of recession-induced cutbacks in teacher assistants. Using panel data from North Carolina, we exploit the state’s unique system of financing its local public schools to identify the causal effects of teacher assistants, controlling for other staff, on measures of student achievement. We find consistent evidence of positive effects of teacher assistants, an understudied staffing category, on student performance in reading and math. We also find larger positive effects of teacher assistants on achievement outcomes for students of color and students in high-poverty schools than for White students and students in more affluent schools. We conclude that teacher assistants are a cost-effective means of raising student achievement, especially in reading.
Hemelt, SW; Ladd, HF; Clifton, CR
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