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We used survey and administrative data from Washington State to assess the degree to which special education teacher preparation, district literacy instructional practices, and the alignment between preparation and practice were associated with the reading test score gains of students with high-incidence disabilities taught by early-career special education teachers in grades 4-8. These students tended to have larger reading gains when their district emphasized evidence-based literacy decoding practices (e.g., phonological awareness, phonics, and reading fluency) and when their special education teacher graduated from a teacher education program that also emphasized these practices. Students with high-incidence disabilities in districts that emphasized balanced literacy practices tended to have lower reading gains. Finally, students with high-incidence disabilities taught by early-career special education teachers tended to have larger reading gains when their teacher’s student teaching placement was supervised by a more experienced cooperating teacher.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Kristian Holden, Marcy Stein (2021). Special Education Teacher Preparation, Literacy Instructional Alignment, and Reading Achievement for Students with High-Incidence Disabilities. CALDER Working Paper No. 253-0621
Free and reduced-price meal eligibility (FRM) is commonly used in education research and policy applications as an indicator of student poverty. However, using multiple data sources external to the school system, we show that FRM status is a poor proxy for poverty, with eligibility rates far exceeding what would be expected based on stated income thresholds for program participation. This is true even without accounting for community eligibility for free meals, although community eligibility has exacerbated the problem in recent years. Over the course of showing the limitations of using FRM data to measure poverty, we provide promising validity evidence for a new, publicly-available measure of school poverty based on local-area family incomes.
This Working Paper was orginally posted under the title "Free and Reduced-Price Meal Eligibility Does Not Measure Student Poverty"
Citation: Ishtiaque Fazlul, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2021). Free and Reduced-Price Meal Eligibility Does Not Measure Student Poverty: Evidence and Policy Significance. CALDER Working Paper No. 252-0521
We study the effect of exposure to immigrants on the educational outcomes of US-born students, using a unique dataset combining population-level birth and school records from Florida. This research question is complicated by substantial school selection of US-born students, especially among White and comparatively affluent students, in response to the presence of immigrant students in the school. We propose a new identification strategy to partial out the unobserved non-random selection into schools, and find that the presence of immigrant students has a positive effect on the academic achievement of US-born students, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, the presence of immigrants does not affect negatively the performance of affluent US-born students, who typically show a higher academic achievement compared to immigrant students. We provide suggestive evidence on potential channels.
Citation: David Figlio, Paola Giuliano, Riccardo Marchingiglio, Umut Özek, Paola Sapienza (2021). Diversity in Schools: Immigrants and the Educational Performance of U.S. Born Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 250-0321
States are responsible for setting and evaluating the standards that teacher preparation programs (TPPs) must meet for accreditation. Despite the considerable investment that states make in this process, no prior research has linked the ratings of TPPs generated by program reviews to inservice teacher performance. In this paper, we describe analyses of program review ratings from Massachusetts and their relationship to formal inservice teacher evaluation ratings and the value-added effectiveness of teachers. When comparisons are made across all schools and districts in the state, we find that a TPP’s review scores are positively predictive of both inservice teacher evaluations and value added of TPP graduates, particularly when scores are aggregated within specific categories like partnerships and fieldbased practices. These relationships, however, become more modest for teacher evaluations and statistically insignificant for value added when the relationships are identified based on comparisons between TPP graduates who are teaching in the same schools and districts. It is not possible to separate whether these differences are due to the TPPs, the schools and districts themselves, or the connections between them, so future work is necessary to further validate TPP review scores in this setting and others.
Citation: Meagan Comb, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Zeyu Jin, Roddy Theobald (2021). State Ratings of Educator Preparation Programs: Connecting Program Review to Teacher Effectiveness. CALDER Working Paper No. 249-0321
We evaluate the feasibility of estimating test-score growth with a gap year in testing data, informing the scenario when state testing resumes after the 2020 COVID-19 induced test stoppage. Our research design is to simulate a gap year in testing using pre-COVID-19 data—when a true test gap did not occur—which facilitates comparisons of district- and school-level growth measures that are estimated with and without a gap year. We find that growth estimates based on the full data and gap-year data are generally similar, and our results highlight an advantage of using comprehensive growth models with rich controls for student and schooling circumstances. With the caveat that there is looming uncertainty about which students will be tested in public schools when testing resumes, and how they will be tested, our findings establish the potential for estimating useful growth measures with a gap year in testing.
Citation: Ishtiaque Fazlul, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons, Cheng Qian (2021). Estimating Test-Score Growth with a Gap Year in the Data. CALDER Working Paper No. 248-0121
In this paper we use data from two states—Michigan and Washington—on COVID case rates at the county level linked to information on the type of instructional modality offered by local public school districts to assess the relationship between modality and COVID outcomes. We focus primarily on COVID case rates, but also provide estimates for hospitalizations (in Washington only) and deaths. Our preferred district and month fixed effects models exploit within district (over time) variation in instructional modality and account for time-invariant district factors. In both states, we find evidence that instructional modality does lead to increases in COVID spread in communities with moderate to high levels of pre-existing COVID cases, although the causal effect is small in magnitude.
Working Paper No. 247-1220 was originally released in December 2020 and has since been updated to Working Paper No. 247-1220-3, released in July 2021.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Scott A. Imberman, Katharine Strunk, Bryant Hopkins, Nate Brown, Erica Harbatkin, Tara Kilbride (2020). To What Extent Does In-Person Schooling Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19? Evidence from Michigan and Washington. CALDER Working Paper No. 247-1220-3
How much do teachers value compensation deferred for retirement (CDR)? This question is important because the vast majority of public school teachers are covered by defined benefit (DB) pension plans that “backload” a large share of compensation to retirement relative to the compensation structure in the private sector, and there is scant evidence about whether pension structures are consistent with teacher preferences for current compensation versus CDR. This study examines a unique setting in Washington State, where teachers are enrolled in a hybrid pension system that has both DB and defined contribution (DC) components. We exploit the fact that teachers have choices over their DC contribution rate to infer their revealed preferences for current versus CDR. We find that teachers on average contribute 7.23 percent of salary income toward retirement; 62 percent in fact elect to contribute more than the minimally required contribution of 5 percent. This suggests that teachers value CDR far more than suggested by prior evidence.
Working paper 242-0920 was originally released in September 2020 under the title "How Much do Teachers Value Deferred Compensation? Evidence from Defined Contribution Rate Choices". This is an updated version, released April 2021.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Kristian Holden (2020). How Much do Teachers Value Compensation Deferred for Retirement? Evidence from Defined Contribution Rate Choices. CALDER Working Paper No. 242-0920-2
Prior work has documented a substantial penalty associated with taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) online relative to on paper (Backes & Cowan, 2019). However, this penalty does not necessarily make online tests less useful. For example, it could be the case that computer literacy skills are correlated with students’ future ability to navigate high school coursework, and thus more predictive of later outcomes. Using a statewide implementation of PARCC in Massachusetts, we test the relative predictive validity of online and paper tests. We are unable to detect a difference between the two and in most cases can rule out even modest differences. Finally, we estimate mode effects for the new Massachusetts statewide assessment. In contrast to the first years of PARCC implementation, we find very small mode effects, showing that it is possible to implement online assessments at scale without large online penalties.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, James Cowan (2020). Is Online a Better Baseline? Comparing the Predictive Validity of Computer- and Paper-Based Tests. CALDER Working Paper No. 241-0820
Many states enhanced benefits in teacher retirement plans during the 1990s. This paper examines the school staffing effects of one such enhancement in a major urban school district with mostly high poverty schools. Pension rule changes in 1999 for St. Louis public school teachers resulted in very large increases in pension wealth for active teachers, as well as a powerful increase in “push” incentives for earlier retirement. Simple descriptive statistics on retirement patterns before and after the enhancements suggest much earlier retirement resulted. Shorter teaching spells imply a steady state with more teaching vacancies and a larger share of novice teachers in classrooms. To better understand the long run effects of these changes and alternatives policies, the authors estimate a structural model of teacher retirement. Simulations of retirement behavior for a representative senior teacher point to shorter completed teaching spells and earlier retirement age as a result of the enhancements. By contrast, moving from the post-1999 to a DC- type plan would extend the teaching career of a representative senior teacher by roughly three years. Simulations of voluntary DC conversation plans suggest that many senior teachers would enroll, thereby reducing workforce turnover, and overall pension costs.
Citation: Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Xiqian Wang (2020). Teacher Pension Enhancements and Staffing in an Urban School District. CALDER Working Paper No. 240-0620
The clinical teaching experience is one of the most important components of teacher preparation. Prior observational research has found that more effective mentors and schools with better professional climates are associated with better preparation for teacher candidates. We test these findings using an experimental assignment of teacher candidates to placement sites in two states. Candidates who were randomly assigned to higher quality placement sites experienced larger improvements in performance over the course of the clinical experience, as evaluated by university instructors. The findings suggest that improving clinical placement procedures can improve the teaching quality of candidates.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Matt Ronfeldt, James Cowan, Trevor Gratz, Emanuele Bardelli, Matt Truwit, Hannah Mullman (2020). Room for Improvement? Mentor Teachers and the Evolution of Teacher Preservice Clinical Evaluations. CALDER Working Paper No. 239-0620
Defined benefit (DB) pension plans incentivize “salary spiking,” where sharp increases in pay are leveraged into significantly higher levels of retirement compensation. While egregious instances of salary spiking occasionally make headlines, the prevalence of salary spiking is poorly understood. Moreover, there is little guidance on the definition of salary spiking behavior and how to identify it. This paper develops an empirical method to quantify the prevalence of salary spiking by identifying cases where end-of-career compensation deviates from the expected level of compensation. We apply this method to teacher pension systems in Illinois to assess the prevalence of salary spiking before and after the implementation of a reform designed to dissuade salary spiking.
Working paper 238-0620 was originally released in June 2020 under the title "A Method for Identifying Salary Spiking: An Assessment of Pensionable Compensation and Reform in Illinois". This is an updated version, released April 2021.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kristian Holden (2020). Identifying Teacher Salary Spiking and Assessing the Impact of Pensionable Compensation Reforms in Illinois. CALDER Working Paper No. 238-0620-2
There is growing interest in using measures of teacher applicant quality to improve hiring decisions, but the statistical properties of such measures are poorly understood. We present evidence on structured ratings solicited from teacher applicants’ references. We find that the reference ratings capture only one underlying dimension of applicant quality, which may indicate a need to broaden the range of questions posed to professional references. Point estimates of inter-rater reliability range between 0.23 and 0.31 and are significantly lower for novice applicants. It is difficult to judge whether these levels of reliability are high or low in the current context given so little evidence on comparable applicant assessment tools.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Malcolm Wolff, Patricia Martinkova (2020). Evidence on the Dimensionality and Reliability of Professional References’ Ratings of Teacher Applicants. CALDER Working Paper No. 237-0620
We use a novel database of student teaching placements in Washington State to investigate teachers’ transitions from student teaching classrooms to first job classrooms and the implications for student achievement. We find that first-year teachers are more effective when they are teaching in the same grade, in the same school level, or in a classroom with student demographics similar to their student teaching classroom. We also document that only 27% of first-year teachers are teaching the same grade they student taught, and that first-year teachers tend to begin their careers in higher-poverty classrooms than their student teaching placements. This suggests that better aligning student teacher placements with first-year teacher hiring could be a policy lever for improving early-career teacher effectiveness.
Citation: John Krieg, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2020). Disconnected Development? The Importance of Specific Human Capital in the Transition from Student Teaching to the Classroom. CALDER Working Paper No. 236-0520
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a policy change to the federally-administered National School Lunch Program that allows schools serving low-income populations to classify all students as eligible for free meals, regardless of individual circumstances. This has implications for the use of free and reduced-price meal (FRM) data to proxy for student disadvantage in education research and policy applications, which is a common practice. We document empirically how the CEP has affected the value of FRM eligibility as a proxy for student disadvantage. At the individual student level, we show that there is essentially no effect of the CEP. However, the CEP does meaningfully change the information conveyed by the share of FRM-eligible students in a school. It is this latter measure that is most relevant for policy uses of FRM data.
Note: Portions of this paper were previously circulated under the title “Using Free Meal and Direct Certification Data to Proxy for Student Disadvantage in the Era of the Community Eligibility Provision.” We have since split the original paper into two parts. This is the first part.
WP 234-0320 was originally released in March 2020. This is the third update, WP 234-0320-3, which was released in September 2020.
Citation: Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2020). The Effect of the Community Eligibility Provision on the Ability of Free and Reduced-Price Meal Data to Identify Disadvantaged Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 234-0320-3
This study examines the effects of internal migration driven by severe natural disasters on host communities, and the mechanisms behind these effects, using the large influx of migrants into Florida public schools after Hurricane Maria. I find adverse effects of the influx in the first year on existing student test scores, disciplinary problems, and student mobility among high-performing students in middle and high school that also persist in the second year. I also find evidence that compensatory resource allocation within schools is an important factor driving the adverse effects of large, unexpected migrant flows on incumbent students in the short-run.
WP 233-0320 was originally released in March 2020. This updated version, WP 233-0320-2, was released in January 2021.
Citation: Umut Özek (2020). Examining the Educational Spillover Effects of Severe Natural Disasters: The Case of Hurricane Maria . CALDER Working Paper No. 233-0320-2
This study adds to the currently limited evidence base on the efficacy of interventions targeting non-college-ready high school students by examining the impact of Kentucky’s Targeted Interventions (TI) program. We focus on interventions that students received under TI in the senior year of high school based on their 11th grade ACT test scores. Using difference-in-regression discontinuity and difference-in-difference designs with seven cohorts of 11th grade students, we find that, for an average per-student cost of about $600, TI significantly reduces the likelihood that students enroll in remedial course in both 2- and 4-year postsecondary institutions by 5–10 percentage points in math and 3–4 percentage points in English. These effects are similar among students who are eligible for free-or reduced-price lunch, Black and Hispanic students, students with remediation needs in multiple subjects, and students in lower-performing schools. Evidence also shows that TI increases the likelihood that students enroll in and pass college math before the end of the first year by four percentage points in 4-year universities. However, little evidence exists for TI affecting credit accumulation or persistence.
Citation: Zeyu Xu, Benjamin Backes, Amanda Oliveira, Dan Goldhaber (2020). Targeted Interventions in High School: Preparing Students for College. CALDER Working Paper No. 232-0220
We use data on the teacher preparation experiences and workforce outcomes of more than 1,300 graduates of special education teacher education programs in Washington to provide a descriptive portrait of special education teacher preparation, workforce entry, and early career retention. We find high rates of workforce entry for special education candidates (over 80%), but we document considerably lower rates of entry into special education classrooms for candidates who hold a dual endorsement in special education and another subject. We also find that special education teachers who are dual endorsed and begin their careers teaching in special education classrooms are less likely stay in these classrooms. Both sets of findings are supported by an instrumental variable analysis that exploits passing score cutoffs on required licensure tests to provide plausibly causal evidence that obtaining a dual endorsement significantly reduces the likelihood that special education candidates teach in special education classrooms.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Natsumi Naito, Marcy Stein (2020). The Special Education Teacher Pipeline: Teacher Preparation, Workforce Entry, and Retention. CALDER Working Paper No. 231-0220
Using detailed administrative data for public schools, we document racial and ethnic segregation at the classroom level in North Carolina, a state that has experienced a sharp increase in Hispanic enrollment. We decompose classroom-level segregation in counties into within-school and between-school components. We find that the within-school component accounted for a sizable share of total segregation in middle schools and high schools. Recognizing its importance could temper the praise for school assignment policies that reduce racial disparities between schools but allow large disparities within them. More generally, we observe between the two components a complementary relationship, with one component tending to be large when the other one is small. Comparing the degree of segregation for the state’s two largest racial/ethnic minority groups, we find that White/Hispanic segregation was more severe than White/Black segregation, particularly within schools. Finally, we examine enrollment patterns by course and show that school segregation brings with it differences by race and ethnicity in the courses that students take, with White students more likely to be enrolled in advanced classes.
WP 230-0220 was originally released in February 2020. This is the third update, WP 230-0220-3, released in January 2021.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Calen R. Clifton, Mavzuna R. Turaeva (2020). School Segregation at the Classroom Level in a Southern ‘New Destination’ State. CALDER Working Paper No. 230-0220-3
Teacher turnover has adverse consequences for student achievement and imposes large financial costs for schools. Some have argued that high-stakes testing may lower teachers’ satisfaction with their jobs and could be a major contributor to teacher attrition. In this paper, we exploit changes in the tested grades and subjects in Georgia to study the effects of eliminating high-stakes testing on teacher turnover and the distribution of teachers across grades and schools. To measure the effect of testing pressures on teacher mobility choices we use a "difference-in-differences" approach,comparing changes in mobility over time in grades/subjects that discontinue testing vis-à-vis grades/subjects that are always tested. Our results show that eliminating testing did not have an impact on the likelihood of leaving teaching, changing schools within a district, or moving between districts. We only uncover small negative effects on the likelihood of grade switching. However,we do find relevant positive effects on retention of beginning teachers in the profession. In particular, the average probability of exit for teachers with 0-4 years of experience fell from 14 to13 percentage points for teachers in grades 1 and 2 and from 14 to 11 percentage points in grades 6 and 7.
Citation: Dillon Fuchsman, Tim Sass, Gema Zamarro (2020). Testing, Teacher Turnover and the Distribution of Teachers Across Grades and Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 229-0220
While the majority of students with disabilities (SWDs) receive instruction from general education teachers, little empirical work has investigated the ways in which these students have equitable access to high-quality teachers. We explore the differences in teacher quality experienced by SWDs and general education (GEN) students and how that access varies with school-level disadvantage by estimating SWD teacher quality gaps in the Los Angeles Unified School District. We examine several different indicators of teacher effectiveness (hiring scores, teacher experience, teachers’ ratings on their observation-based performance evaluations, and value-added measures) for general education teachers who instruct both SWDs and general education (GEN) students. We find that SWDs are significantly more likely to have lower math VAM teachers than their GEN peers, and these gaps do not vary by school-level disadvantage. We find no differences on the other indicators of teacher effectiveness.
Citation: Ijun Lai, W. Jesse Wood, Scott A. Imberman, Nathan Jones, Katharine Strunk (2020). Teacher Quality Gaps by Disability and Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Los Angeles. CALDER Working Paper No. 228-0220