Two years ago, the Next Productivity Bonus for higher education appeared to be evidence from Northwestern that tenured professors produced no measurable improvements in student success.  Or something.  The talking point version of the story was wrong back then.  Faculty who enjoy proper working conditions and a modicum of job security matter.  And there was enough proper analysis of the data to get the findings into The Review of Economics and Statistics.
We find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from contingent faculty in their firstterm courses. This result is driven by the fact that the bottom quarter of tenure track/tenured faculty (as indicted by our measure of teaching effectiveness) has lower “value added” than their contingent counterparts. Differences between contingent and tenure track/tenured faculty are present across a wide variety of subject areas and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern’s averages and less-qualified students.
In Northwestern-speak, "contingent" doesn't mean "freeway flyer with no office and gigs at six colleges."

Via Newmark's Door, where you can also read about the muggers who come out at night.

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