Journal of Productivity Analysis

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

Using DEA for measuring teachers’ performance and the impact on students’ outcomes: evidence for Spain



This research contributes to the ongoing debate about differences in teachers’ performance. We introduce a new methodology that combines production frontier and impact evaluation insights that allows using DEA as an identification strategy of a treatment with high and low quality teachers within schools to assess their performance. We use a unique database of primary schools in Spain that, for every school, supplies information on two classrooms at 4th grade where students and teachers were randomly assigned into the two classrooms. We find considerable differences in teachers’ efficiency across schools with significant effects on students’ achievement. In line with previous findings, we find that neither teacher experience nor academic training explains teachers’ efficiency. Conversely, being a female teacher, having worked five or more years in the same school or having smaller class sizes positively affects the performance of teachers.


Teachers’ performance Efficiency DEA Causal inference Primary education 

JEL classification

I21 C14 



We thank two anonymous referees for helpful discussions and suggestions. Research support from the Fundación Ramón Areces is acknowledged by the authors. Gabriela Sicilia thanks financial support received from the Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Economics VIComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Public FinanceUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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