The PEIMS student data contain a limited number of student and family characteristics including race, ethnicity, gender, and eligibility for a free or reduced price lunch. Students who switch public schools within the state of Texas can be followed just as those who remain in the same school or district. Although explicit background measures are relatively limited, the panel feature can be exploited to account implicitly for time invariant individual and school effects on achievement. read more
Beginning in 1993, the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) was administered each spring to eligible students enrolled in grades three through eight. The criterion referenced tests evaluate student mastery of grade-specific subject matter. We use test results for reading and mathematics, subjects that are examined in all grades. Reading and math tests each contain approximately 50 questions. Because the number of questions and average percent right varies across time and grades, we transform all test results into standardized scores with a mean of zero and variance equal to one. While this transformation eliminates any year-to-year movement in overall performance, it corrects for any perturbations in the specific test form that is employed. Identical means and variances for all tests facilitates the interpretation of the variance decompositions across time and grades, and the empirical findings are robust to a number of transformations including the raw percentage correct. The bottom one percent of test scores and the top and bottom one percent of test score gains are trimmed from the sample in order to reduce measurement error. Participants in bilingual or special education programs are also excluded from the sample because of the difficulty in measuring school characteristics for these students.
Student data are merged with information on teachers using unique school-grade identifiers. The data provide information on each teacher for each year in which they teach. Experience and highest degree earned are reported, as are the class size, subject, grade and population served for each class taught. Although the currently available data do not permit linking individual students with specific teachers, the available information is used to construct subject and grade average characteristics for teachers in regular classrooms.