Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey S. Zax

Second Advisor

Terra McKinnish

Third Advisor

Brian Cadena


This dissertation is composed of three studies on public school teachers using data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-Up Survey. The first chapter combines restricted-use data from the 2007-2008 SASS and a disaggregated measure of teacher quality based on undergraduate institutional quality to determine where high quality teachers choose to teach. Higher quality teachers are more likely to teach at charter schools versus public schools than are lower quality teachers. Among the youngest cohort of teachers, those who graduated from the Most Competitive colleges are 11 percentage points more likely to choose a charter school than their lower quality counterparts. These findings suggest that traditional public schools may be at a growing disadvantage in attracting teachers who graduate from the best universities. The second chapter investigates how teacher job satisfaction affects productivity as measured by the high school graduation rate and college enrollment rate. It uses an instrumental variables (IV) approach to purge the model of the endogeneity of satisfaction. The findings suggest teacher job satisfaction has a long-lasting effect on student outcomes. In particular, a one standard deviation increase in teacher job satisfaction increases the college enrollment rate by roughly 2.3-2.4 percentage points. The third chapter examines attrition and retention rates among teachers in charter and traditional public schools. It finds that among new teachers, teaching at a charter increases the odds of leaving teaching by a factor of 2.13. Among new teachers who voluntarily leave teaching or move schools, teaching at a charter increases the probability of leaving by a factor of 3.04. Charter status does not affect attrition among all teachers. The results also indicate that the average marginal effect of graduating from a top ranked college reduces the probability of moving schools among all teachers, though college competitiveness does not marginally affect the mobility decisions of new teachers.