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The Effect of Occupational Licensing Stringency on the Teacher Quality Distribution

SIEPR
Dec 2020
Working Paper
20-050
By  Bradley J. Larsen, Ziao Ju, Adam Kapor, Chuan Yu
Concerned about the low academic ability of public school teachers, in the 1990s and 2000s, some states increased licensing stringency to weed out low-quality candidates, while others decreased restrictions to attract high-quality candidates. We offer a theoretical model justifying both reactions. Using data from 1991–2007 on licensing requirements and teacher quality — as measured by the selectivity of teachers’ undergraduate institutions — we find that stricter licensing requirements, especially those emphasizing academic coursework, increase the left tail of the quality distribution for secondary school teachers without significantly decreasing quality for high-minority or high-poverty districts.
Publication Keywords: 
teacher licensing
teacher certification
teacher quality
Education
occupational licensing