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Traditionally, teacher salaries have been determined solely by experience and educational attainment. This has led to chronic shortages of teachers in particular subject areas, such as math, science and special education. We study the first long-running statewide program to differentiate teacher pay based on subject area, Georgia’s bonus system for math and science teachers. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find the bonuses reduce teacher attrition by 18 to 28 percent. However, we find no evidence the program increases the probability that education majors become secondary math or science teachers upon graduation or alters specific major choices within the education field.
Citation: Carycruz Bueno, Tim Sass (2019). The Effects of Differential Pay on Teacher Recruitment and Retention . CALDER Working Paper No. 219-0519
We identify externalities in human capital production function arising from sibling spillovers. Using regression discontinuity design generated by school-entry cutoffs and school records from one district in Florida, we find positive spillover effects from an older to a younger child in less affluent families and negative spillover effects from a younger to an older child in more affluent families. These results are consistent with direct spillovers dominating in economically disadvantaged families and with parental reinforcement in more affluent families.
Citation: Krzysztof Karbownik, Umut Özek (2019). Setting a Good Example? Examining Sibling Spillovers in Educational Achievement Using a Regression Discontinuity Design. CALDER Working Paper No. 217-0219-1
We study the effect of preferences for boys on the performance in mathematics of girls, using evidence from two different data sources. In our first set of results, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a large population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score on average 3 percentage points lower on math exams when compared to girls raised in other types of families. In our second set of results we find similar strong effects when we study the correlations between girls’ performance in mathematics and maternal gender role attitudes, using evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We conclude that socialization at home can explain a non-trivial part of the observed gender disparities in mathematics performance and document that maternal gender attitudes correlate with those of their children.
Citation: Gaia Dossi, David Figlio, Paola Giuliano, Paola Sapienza (2019). Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math . CALDER Working Paper No. 216-0219-1
Principals are widely seen as a key influence on the educational environment of schools, and nearly all principals have experience as teachers. Yet there is no evidence on whether we can predict the effectiveness of principals (as measured by their value added) based on their value added as teachers, an issue we explore using administrative data from Washington. Several descriptive features of the principal labor market stand out. First, teachers who become principals tend to have higher levels of educational attainment while teaching and are less likely to be female, but we find no significant differences in licensure test scores between those teachers who become principals and those we do not observe in the principalship. Second, principal labor markets appear to be quite localized: about 50 percent of principals previously taught in the same district in which they assumed a principalship. We find positive correlations between teacher and principal value added in reading (ELA) and similarly sized but less precise estimates in math. Teachers who become principals have slightly higher teacher value added, but the difference between the two groups is not statistically significant, suggesting that principals are not systematically selected based on their prior effectiveness when serving as a classroom teacher.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Kristian Holden, Bingjie Chen (2019). Do More Effective Teachers Become More Effective Principals?. CALDER Working Paper No. 215-0119-1
Free and reduced-price meal (FRM) data are used ubiquitously to proxy for student disadvantage in education research and policy applications. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)—a recently-implemented policy change to the federally-administered National School Lunch Program—allows schools serving low-income populations to identify all students as FRM-eligible regardless of individual circumstances. We study the CEP’s effect on FRM eligibility as a proxy for student disadvantage, and relatedly, we examine the viability of direct certification (DC) status as an alternative disadvantage measure. Our findings on whether the CEP degrades the informational content of FRM data are mixed. At the individual level there is essentially no effect, but the CEP does meaningfully change the information conveyed by the FRM-eligible share of students in a school. Our comparison of FRM and DC data in the post-CEP era shows that these measures are similarly informative as proxies for disadvantage, despite the CEP-induced information loss in FRM data. Using both measures together can improve the identification of disadvantaged students, but only marginally.
WP 214-0119-1 was originally released in January 2019. An updated version was released in April 2019.
Citation: Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2019). Using Free Meal and Direct Certification Data to Proxy for Student Disadvantage in the Era of the Community Eligibility Provision. CALDER Working Paper No. 214-0119-1
An increasing emphasis on principals as key to school improvement has contributed to efforts to elevate principal effectiveness that have taken various forms across the US. The primacy of the state as the focal point of educational reform elevates the value of understanding commonalities and differences among states in characteristics of principals, the distribution of principals among schools and ultimately the policies associated with more effective school leadership, particularly for disadvantaged children. This paper describes major state policies, the distribution of elementary school principals among schools along a several dimensions, and pathways to the principalship to illustrate similarities and differences among six states in the tenure and experience distributions and how these vary by student demographic characteristics and district size. Measurement of principal effectiveness and its relationship with principal characteristics and state policies would be ideal, but complications introduced by the dynamics of principal influences and confounding effects of other factors inhibit this effort. Nonetheless, school value added to achievement provides information on differences in principal effectiveness, and we report within-school variation value added across principal regimes and the associations between value added and principal characteristics. The analysis reveals many similarities and some differences among the states, some of which are related to differences in governance structures. Perhaps the most striking differences relate to the pathways to the principalship including the fraction of principals with experiences as assistant principals and teachers.
Citation: Wes Austin, Bingjie Chen, Dan Goldhaber , Eric Hanushek, Kristian Holden, Cory Koedel, Helen Ladd, Jin Luo, Eric Parsons, Gregory Phelan, Steven Rivkin, Tim Sass, Mavzuna Turaeva (2019). Path to the Principalship and Value Added: A Cross-state Comparison of Elementary and Middle School Principals. CALDER Working Paper No. 213-0119-1
Novice teachers’ professional contexts may have important implications for their effectiveness, development, and retention. However, descriptions of these contexts suffer from data limitations, resulting in unidimensional or vague characterizations. Using 10 years of administrative data from the Los Angeles Unified School District, we describe patterns of new teacher sorting using 27 context measures organized along three distinct dimensions - intensity of instructional responsibilities, homophily, and colleague qualifications – and use school-level survey data to measure a fourth dimension (professional culture). Relative to more experienced teachers, novice teachers have placements that are more challenging along the first three dimensions, and composite measures are differentially predictive of teachers’ outcomes. This suggests that policymakers should consider placements to better retain and develop novice teachers.
Citation: Paul Bruno, Sarah Rabovsky, Katharine Strunk (2019). Taking their First Steps: The Distribution of New Teachers into School and Classroom Contexts and Implications for Teacher Effectiveness and Growth. CALDER Working Paper No. 212-0119-1
In this study, we use microdata from 12 Florida county-level school districts and a regression discontinuity design to examine the effects of early grade retention on the short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes of English learners. We find that retention in the third-grade substantially improves the English skills of these students, reducing the time to proficiency by half and decreasing the likelihood of taking a remedial English course in middle school by one-third. Grade retention also roughly doubles the likelihood of taking an advanced course in math and science in middle school, and more than triples the likelihood of taking college credit-bearing courses in high school for English learners. We also find that these benefits are larger for foreign born students, students with higher latent human capital in third grade as proxied by their math scores, students whose first language is Spanish, and students in lower-poverty elementary schools.
Citation: David Figlio, Umut Özek (2019). An Extra Year to Learn English? Early Grade Retention and the Human Capital Development of English Learners. CALDER Working Paper No. 211-0119-1
In many school districts the policies that regulate personnel are governed by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated between teachers’ unions and school boards. While there is significant policy attention and, in some cases, legislative action that has affected the scope of these agreements, there is relatively little research that assesses how CBAs vary over time, or whether they change in response to states’ legislative reforms. In this paper we compare CBAs in three states at two points in time: before and after substantial reforms in Michigan and Washington impacting collective bargaining and in California where there were no major statutory changes affecting CBAs. We find that few district characteristics predict changes in CBA restrictiveness over time, other than institutional spillovers from local bargaining structures. However, we observe that reforms to the scope of bargaining in Michigan and Washington drastically reduced the restrictiveness of Michigan and Washington CBAs relative to California.
Citation: Katharine Strunk , Joshua Cowen, Dan Goldhaber , Bradley D. Marianno, Tara Kilbride, Roddy Theobald (2018). Collective Bargaining and State-Level Reforms: Assessing Changes to the Restrictiveness of Collective Bargaining Agreements across Three States. CALDER Working Paper No. 210-1218-1
We use longitudinal data from North Carolina and Washington to study the extent to which four processes—teacher attrition from each state workforce, teacher mobility within districts, teacher mobility across districts, and teacher hiring—contribute to “teacher quality gaps” (TQGs) between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. We first replicate prior findings documenting inequities in each of these processes using different measures of student disadvantage (race and poverty) and teacher quality (experience, licensure test scores, and value added) and then develop and implement a simulation to assess the extent to which each process contributes to observed TQGs in each state. We find that all four processes contribute to TQGs but also document considerable heterogeneity in the extent to which each process contributes to the different TQG measures. For example, patterns in teacher attrition and mobility contribute more to TQGs measured by teacher experience, while patterns in teacher hiring explain the majority of TQGs measured by teacher licensure test scores and value added.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Vanessa Quince , Roddy Theobald (2018). How Did It Get This Way? Disentangling the Sources of Teacher Quality Gaps Across Two States. CALDER Working Paper No. 209-1118-1
We use a novel database of the preservice apprenticeships (“student teaching placements”) of teachers in Washington State to investigate the relationship between mentor effectiveness (as measured by value added) and the future effectiveness of their mentees. We find a strong, positive relationship between the effectiveness of a teacher’s mentor and their own effectiveness in math and a more modest relationship in English Language Arts. The relationship in math is strongest early in a teacher’s career, decays significantly over time, and would be positive and statistically significant even in the presence of nonrandom sorting on unobservables of the same magnitude as the sorting on observables. Put together, this suggests that at least some of this relationship reflects a causal relationship between mentor effectiveness and the future effectiveness of their mentees in math.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Effective Like Me? Does Having a More Productive Mentor Improve the Productivity of Mentees? . CALDER Working Paper No. 208-1118-1
We exploit within-teacher variation in the years that teachers host an apprentice (“student teacher”) in Washington State to estimate the causal effect of these apprenticeships on student achievement, both during the apprenticeship and afterwards. The average causal effect of hosting a student teacher on student performance in the year of the apprenticeship is precisely estimated and indistinguishable from zero in both math and reading, though effects are large and negative in math when ineffective teachers host an apprentice. Hosting a student teacher is also found to have modest positive impacts on student math and reading achievement in a teacher’s classroom in following years.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Exploring the Impact of Student Teaching Apprenticeships on Student Achievement and Mentor Teachers . CALDER Working Paper No. 207-1118-1
We use comprehensive data on student teaching placements from 14 teacher education programs (TEPs) in Washington State to explore the sorting of teacher candidates to the teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”) and the schools in which student teaching occurs. We find that, all else equal, teachers with more experience, higher degree levels, and higher value added in math are more likely to serve as cooperating teachers, as are schools with lower levels of historical teacher turnover but with more open positions the following year. We also find that teacher candidates are more likely to be placed with cooperating teachers of the same gender and race/ethnicity, and are more likely to work with cooperating teachers and in schools with administrators who graduated from the candidate’s TEP.
Citation: John Krieg , Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2018). Teacher Candidate Apprenticeships: Assessing the Who and Where of Student Teaching. CALDER Working Paper No. 206-1118-1
A burgeoning literature investigates the importance of student teaching placements for teacher candidate development, but an important perspective that is largely missing from the existing literature is that of the school districts that host student teachers. In this paper, we describe the student teaching process from the perspective of Spokane Public Schools (SPS), highlighting the challenges associated with the student teacher placement process and several initiatives SPS has undertaken to improve student teaching experiences for teacher candidates. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic effort by a school district to improve the student teaching process and study the effects on teacher candidate outcomes. The initiatives undertaken by SPS illustrate the potential for districts to take a leadership role in defining the student teaching process and highlight some of the challenges inherent in hosting student teachers.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kim Harmon, Roddy Theobald (2018). A Practical Guide to Challenges and Opportunities in Student Teaching: A School District’s Perspective. CALDER Working Paper No. 205-1018-1
Student teaching has long been considered the most important component of an effective teacher education program. Recently, new research is finding links between these experiences and teacher candidates’ future effectiveness, yet relatively little is known about the student teacher placement process and, in particular, the processes that lead to the matching of teacher candidates to the in-service teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”). In this study, we examine the match process as well as the factors that influence these placement decisions. We also explore how, if at all, practices vary across teacher education programs (TEPs), districts, and schools. We find that, in broad terms, the process for matching student teachers to mentor teachers is similar across educational institutions, although TEPs and school systems sometimes face competing priorities when placing student teachers in classrooms. We also identify a problem of information asymmetry in the placement process, which leaves TEPs with questions about how cooperating teachers are selected and districts and schools with limited information with which to make thoughtful and intentional matches between candidates and cooperating teachers. Finally, we document the important role of social networks in placements and how they can advantage some TEPs, districts, and schools in this process.
Citation: Elise St. John, Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). How the Match Gets Made: Exploring Student Teacher Placements Across Teacher Education Programs, Districts, and Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 204-1018-1
High teacher turnover imposes numerous costs on the schools and districts from which teachers depart. This study asks how schools respond to spells of high teacher turnover, and assesses organizational and human capital losses in terms of the changing composition of the teacher pool. Our analysis uses more than two decades of linked administrative data on math and ELA teachers at middle schools in North Carolina to determine school responses to turnover across different policy environments and macroeconomic climates. We find that, even after accounting for school contexts and trends, turnover has marked, and lasting, negative consequences for teacher quality and student achievement. Our results highlight the need for heightened policy attention to issues of teacher retention and working conditions.
WP 203-0918-1 was originally released in September 2018. An updated version was released in May 2019.
We study the relative performance of two policy relevant value-added models – a one-step fixed effect model and a two-step aggregated residuals model – using a simulated dataset well grounded in the value-added literature. A key feature of our data generating process is that student achievement depends on a continuous measure of economic disadvantage. This is a realistic condition that has implications for model performance because researchers typically have access to only a noisy, binary measure of disadvantage. We find that one- and two-step value-added models perform similarly across a wide range of student and teacher sorting conditions, with the two-step model modestly outperforming the one-step model in conditions that best match observed sorting in real data. A reason for the generally superior performance of the two-step model is that it better handles the use of an error-prone, dichotomous proxy for student disadvantage.
WP 179 was revised in September 2018. It was originally released in June 2017
Citation: Eric Parsons, Cory Koedel, Li Tan (2018). Accounting for Student Disadvantage in Value-Added Models (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 179
Instructional time is a fundamental educational input, yet we have little causal evidence about the effect of longer school days on student achievement. This paper uses a sharp regression discontinuity design to estimate the effects of lengthening the school day for low-performing schools in Florida by exploiting an administrative cutoff for eligibility. Our results indicate significant positive effects of additional literacy instruction on student reading achievement. In particular, we find effects of 0.05 standard deviations of improvement in reading test scores for program assignment in the first year, though long-run effects are difficult to assess.
Citation: David Figlio, Kristian Holden, Umut Ozek (2018). Do Students Benefit from Longer School Days? Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida's Additional Hour of Literacy Instruction. CALDER Working Paper No. 201-0818-1
As states attempt to staff public school classrooms with qualified teachers, primary attention has focused on educator preparation and early career retention. Far less research has examined the staffing consequences of turnover induced by teacher pension plans. This paper makes use of a unique longitudinal data file with performance measures for all public school teachers in Tennessee. Descriptive analysis finds that higher quality teachers are less likely to retire for a given age and experience. To better understand the effects of pension plan incentives on workforce quality, we estimate a structural retirement model that explicitly allows for different work-retirement preferences for high and low quality teachers. We find that high quality teachers have a lower disutility for teaching as compared to retirement. Given that it costs less to keep high as compared to low quality teachers on the job, we use the structural estimates to simulate the effect of retention bonuses targeted to the former. One year retention bonuses produce an additional year of high quality teaching at a cost of roughly $40,000.
Citation: Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Xiqian Wang (2018). Teacher Pension Plan Incentives, Retirement Decisions, and Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 200-0718-1
We use longitudinal data on high school students in Washington State to assess the relationships between English Language Arts (ELA) teacher value added and other qualifications and the high school and postsecondary outcomes of their students. We also investigate whether these relationships differ for students with and without disabilities. We find that students assigned to 10th grade ELA teachers with higher value added have better test scores, are more likely to graduate on-time, and are more likely to attend and graduate from a four-year college than observably similar students assigned to 10th grade ELA teachers with lower value added. We also find that many of these relationships vary for students with and without disabilities, as 10th grade ELA teacher value added is more positively predictive of on-time graduation and four-year college attendance for students without disabilities, but more positively predictive of two-year college attendance and employment within two years of graduation for students with disabilities. In contrast to value added, other teacher characteristics like experience, degree level, endorsement area, and licensure test scores do not consistently predict better outcomes for students with or without disabilities.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz, Kristian Holden (2018). High School English Language Arts Teachers and Postsecondary Outcomes for Students With and Without Disabilities. CALDER Working Paper No. 199-0718-1