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Using matched student-teacher, I investigate what kind of teacher attributes make a difference for student achievement in resource-constrained rural communities in northwest China. Results from a series of random-effects models controlling for student background and community economic and social resources identifies several teacher attributes that are associated with student mathematics achievement in the early years of schooling. Students who are taught by teachers who have official credentials, high levels of motivation to improve practice, commitment to the profession, and strong interpersonal skills have higher math achievement, on average. In addition, students who are taught by teachers with 3-5 years of teaching experience have the highest performance, on average, controlling for other student, family, and community characteristics. Importantly, the analyses indicate that teacher attributes to be a distinct dimension of community inequality in rural Gansu rather than as an immediate link between community resources and student achievement. The findings provide a complex picture of the influence of wide range of teacher characteristics on achievement, and carry important policy implications for teacher recruitment, retention, and professional development in rural disadvantaged communities in China and around the world.
Date Posted: 24 April 2012