A key assumption in recent work on education policy is that a given teacher has the same impact on any student, regardless of the student's characteristics. For example, value added methods estimate a teacher “fixed effect” that---while it may vary with the teacher's experience---does not vary with the characteristics of the students he or she is assigned, and does not vary within his or her classroom. But one may wonder if teachers teach differently across students, or if they direct effort and attention towards more able or more disruptive students in the classroom.
This project aims to examine teacher-student interactions in the classroom. An extensive data collection effort among teachers, students, parents and school administrators in Romania, which is uniquely well-suited to tackle both methodological and data issues, allows the research team to analyze: (1) whether teachers prioritize certain students in their classes when setting their own effort or the level of their instruction, (2) how this varies in response to changes in the level and distribution of student ability teachers face, (3) how this varies with teachers' own characteristics, and (4) how it affects child learning.