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High teacher turnover imposes numerous burdens on the schools and districts from which teachers depart. Some of these burdens are explicit and take the form of recruiting, hiring and training costs. Others are more hidden and take the form of changes to the composition and quality of the teaching staff. This study focuses on the latter. We ask how schools respond to spells of high teacher turnover, and assess organizational and human capital effects. Our analysis uses two decades of administrative data on math and ELA middle school teachers in North Carolina to determine school responses to turnover across different policy environments and macroeconomic climates. Based on models controlling for school contexts and trends, we find that turnover has marked, and lasting, negative consequences for the quality of the instructional staff and student achievement. Our results highlight the need for heightened policy attention to school specific issues of teacher retention.
WP 203-0918-1 was originally released in September 2018. An updated version was released in December 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
The decades-long resistance to federally imposed school desegregation entered a new phase at the turn of the new century, when federal courts adopted a color-blind approach in judging local school districts’ assignment plans. Using data from one of the first states to come under this dictum, we examine the ways in which households and policymakers took actions that reduced the amount of interracial contact in K-12 schools across counties in North Carolina between 1998 and 2016. We divide these reductions in interracial contact into portions due to the private school and charter school sectors, the existence of multiple school districts, and racial disparities between schools within districts and sectors. For most counties, the last of these proves to be the biggest, though in some counties private schools, charter schools, or multiple districts played a deciding role. In addition, we decompose segregation in metropolitan areas, finding that more than half can be attributed to racial disparities inside school districts. We also measure segregation by economic status, finding that it, like racial segregation, increased in the largest urban counties, but elsewhere changed little over the period.
WP 198-0618-2 was originally released in June 2018 under the title, "School Segregation in The Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016". An updated version was released in June 2020.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). The Undoing of Desegregation: School Segregation in the Era of School Choice and Color-Blind Jurisprudence. CALDER Working Paper No. 198-0618-2
We use statewide data from Massachusetts to investigate teacher performance evaluations as a measure of teaching effectiveness. Consistent with prior research, we find that assignment to lower achieving classrooms reduces teachers’ performance ratings. But after adjusting for these and other observable differences between classroom assignments, we show that regression-adjusted performance measures can reliably predict future evaluation ratings as teachers move across grades and subjects within the same school. However, we also document substantial unexplained variation in ratings across schools and districts in the state. In particular, districts vary substantially both in the extent to which they differentiate between teachers and in the sensitivity of performance ratings to differences in teacher effectiveness as measured by value added. As a result, even after regression adjustment, teacher evaluation ratings generally provide unreliable predictions of future teacher evaluations after teachers switch schools. These findings suggest that policymakers and researchers should use caution in using performance evaluation ratings to make comparisons between teachers in different contexts.
WP 197-0618-1 was originally released in June 2018. An updated version (WP 197-0618-2) was released in August 2020.
Citation: James Cowan , Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2018). Performance Evaluations as a Measure of Teacher Effectiveness when Standards Differ: Accounting for Variation across Classrooms, Schools, and Districts. CALDER Working Paper No. 197-0618-2
We use information on the charter school choices made by North Carolina families, separately by race, who switched their child from a traditional public school (TPS) to a charter school in 2015-16 to explore how such choices affect racial segregation between schools and racial isolation within charter schools. We find that the movement of white switchers, but not minority switchers to charter schools increases racial segregation between schools. In addition, using a conditional logit model to estimate revealed preferences, we find that the value parents place on the racial composition of individual charter schools differs by the race and income of the switchers. As a result, even after we control for other valued aspects of charter schools -- such as distance from the previous traditional public school and the charter school’s mission, academic performance and services offered -- the differential preferences of the switchers leads to substantial racial isolation within charter schools.
This paper is a more recent version of a paper circulated under the title “Choosing Charters in North Carolina: What do Parents Value?”.
Citation: Helen Ladd, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). Parental preferences for charter schools in North Carolina: Implications for racial segregation and isolation . CALDER Working Paper No. 196-0618-1
We study a teacher incentive policy in Washington State that awards a financial bonus to National Board certified teachers in high poverty schools. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that the bonus policy increased the proportion of certified teachers in bonus-eligible schools by improving hiring, increasing certification rates of incumbent teachers, and reducing turnover. Depending on the method, we estimate that the proportion of NBCTs in treated schools increased by about four to eight percentage points over the first five years of eligibility. However, the improvement in certification rates corresponds to a change of about 0.2 to 0.3 percent of a standard deviation in teacher quality per year and we do not find evidence that the bonus resulted in detectible effects on student test achievement.
Citation: James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber (2018). Do Bonuses Affect Teacher Staffing and Student Achievement in High Poverty Schools? Evidence from an Incentive for National Board Certified Teachers in Washington State. CALDER Working Paper No. 194-0618-1
Few studies examine employee responses to layoff-induced unemployment risk; none that we know of quantify the impact of job insecurity on individual employee productivity. Using data from the Los Angeles Unified School District and Washington State during the Great Recession, we provide the first evidence about the impact of the layoff process on teacher productivity. In both sites we find that teachers impacted by the layoff process are less productive than those who do not face layoff-induced job threat. LAUSD teachers who are laid off and then rehired to return to the district are less productive in the two years following the layoff. Washington teachers who are given a reduction-in-force (RIF) notice and are then not laid off have reduced effectiveness in the year of the RIF. We argue that these results are likely driven by impacts of the layoff process on teachers’ job commitment and present evidence to rule out alternate explanations.
WP 140 was revised in March 2018. It was originally released in November 2015.
Citation: Katharine O. Strunk, Dan Goldhaber, David S. Knight, Nate Brown (2018). Are There Hidden Costs Associated With Conducting Layoffs? The Impact of RIFs and Layoffs on Teacher Effectiveness. CALDER Working Paper No. 140
UTeach is a well-known, university-based program designed to increase the number of high-quality STEM teachers in the workforce. Despite substantial investment and rapid program diffusion, there is little evidence about the effectiveness of UTeach graduates. Using administrative data from the state of Texas, we measure the impact of having a UTeach teacher on student test scores in math and science in middle schools and high schools. We find that students taught by UTeach teachers perform significantly better on end-of-grade tests in math and end-of-course tests in math and science by 8% to 14% of a standard deviation on the test, depending on grade and subject.
WP 173 was revised in February 2018. It was originally released in December 2016.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Dan Goldhaber, Whitney Cade, Kate Sullivan , Melissa Dodson (2018). Can UTeach? Assessing the Relative Effectiveness of STEM Teachers. CALDER Working Paper No. 173
We study the effects of access to high school math and science courses on postsecondary STEM enrollment and degree attainment using administrative microdata from Missouri. Our data panel includes over 140,000 students from 14 cohorts entering the 4-year public university system. The effects of high school course access are identified by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in course offerings within high schools over time. We find that differential access to high school courses does not affect postsecondary STEM enrollment or degree attainment. Our null results are estimated precisely enough to rule out moderate impacts.
This paper was revised February 2019. It was originally released in February 2018.
Citation: Rajeev Darolia, Cory Koedel, Joyce B. Main, Felix Ndashimye, Junpeng Yan (2018). High School Course Access and Postsecondary STEM Enrollment and Attainment. CALDER Working Paper No. 186
This paper examines the influence of teacher assistants and other personnel on student outcomes in elementary schools during a period of recession-induced cutbacks in teachers and teacher assistants. Using panel data from North Carolina, we exploit the state’s unique system of financing its local public schools to identify the causal effects of teacher assistants and other staff on student test scores in math and reading and other outcomes. We find strong and consistent evidence of positive contributions of teacher assistants, an understudied staffing category, with larger effects on outcomes for minority students than for white students.
Citation: Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd (2017). Teaching Assistants and Nonteaching Staff: Do They Improve Student Outcomes? (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 169
The world is experiencing the second largest refugee crisis in a century, and one of the major points of contention involves the possible adverse effects of incoming refugees on host communities. We examine the effects of a large refugee influx into Florida public schools following the Haitian earthquake of 2010 using unique matched birth and schooling records. We find precise zero estimated effects of refugees on the educational outcomes of incumbent students in the year of the earthquake or in the two years that follow, regardless of the socioeconomic status, grade level, ethnicity, or birthplace of incumbent students.
Citation: David Figlio, Umut Özek (2017). Unwelcome Guests? The Effects of Refugees on the Educational Outcomes of Incumbent Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 180
State-specific licensing policies and pension plans create mobility costs for educators who cross state lines. We empirically test whether these costs affect production in schools – a hypothesis that follows directly from economic theory on labor frictions – using geocoded data on school locations and state boundaries. We find that achievement is lower in mathematics, and to a lesser extent in reading, at schools that are more exposed to state boundaries. A detailed investigation of the selection of schools into boundary regions yields no indication of systematic differences between boundary and non-boundary schools along other measured dimensions. Moreover, we show that cross-district labor frictions do not explain state boundary effects. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that mobility frictions in educator labor markets near state boundaries lower student achievement.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky (2017). Labor Market Frictions and Production Efficiency in Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 166
We study how the introduction of a rigorous teacher evaluation system in a large urban school district affects the quality composition of teacher turnovers. With the implementation of the new system, we document increased turnover among the least effective teachers and decreased turnover among the most effective teachers, relative to teachers in the middle of the distribution. Our findings demonstrate that the alignment between personnel decisions and teacher effectiveness can be improved through targeted personnel policies. However, the change in the composition of exiters brought on by the policy we study is too small to meaningfully impact student achievement.
Working Paper 168-0717 was updated March 2019, it was orginally published July 2017.
Citation: Julie Berry Cullen, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2017). The Compositional Effect of Rigorous Teacher Evaluation on Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 168
Public school teachers retire much earlier than comparable professionals. Pension rule changes affecting new teachers can be used to close this gap in the long run, but any effects will not be observed for decades and the implications for workforce quality are unclear. This paper considers targeted incentive policies designed to retain experienced high-need teachers, of retirement age, as instruments to extend current teachers’ careers. We use structural estimates from a dynamic retirement model to simulate the workforce effects of targeted late-career salary bonuses and deferred retirement (DROP) plans using administrative data from Missouri. The simulations suggest that such programs can be cost-effective, partly because long-term pension savings offset a portion of upfront program costs. More generally, we demonstrate the utility of using structural retirement models to analyze fiscal and workforce effects of changes to public sector pension plans, since the effects of pension reforms cumulate over many years.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Weiwei Wu (2017). Pensions and Late Career Teacher Retention (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 164
Indiana, Oklahoma, and Washington each have programs designed to address college enrollment gaps by offering a promise of state-based college financial aid to low-income middle school students in exchange for making a pledge to do well in high school, be a good citizen, not be convicted of a felony, and apply for financial aid to college. Using a triple-difference specification, we estimate the effects of Washington’s College Bound Scholarship program on students’ high school grades, high school graduation, juvenile detention and rehabilitation, and incarceration in state prison during high school or early adulthood. We find insignificant and substantively small or negative effects on these outcomes. These results call into question the rationale for such early commitment programs.
WP 178 was revised in February 2019. It was originally released in June 2017.”
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Mark C. Long, Trevor Gratz, Jordan Rooklyn (2017). Pledging to Do "Good”: An Early Commitment Pledge Program, College Scholarships, and High School Outcomes in Washington State. CALDER Working Paper No. 178
We investigate factors influencing student sign-ups for Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship (CBS) program and consider whether there is scope for the program to change college enrollment expectations. We find that student characteristics associated with signing the scholarship closely parallel characteristics of low-income students who attend 4-year colleges, suggesting that signing the pledge is driven largely by pre-existing expectations of college-going. We also find evidence that student sign-up rates are lower than has been previously reported, which is important given the perception among program administrators that nearly all eligible students sign up.
WP 175 was revised in February 2019. It was originally released in January 2017
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Mark C. Long, Ann E. Person, Jordan Rooklyn (2017). What Factors Predict Middle School Students Sign Up for Washington's College Bound Scholarship Program? A Mixed Methods Evaluation . CALDER Working Paper No. 175
We use remarkable population-level administrative education and birth records from Florida to study the role of Long-Term Orientation on the educational attainment of immigrant students living in the US. Controlling for the quality of schools and individual characteristics, students from countries with long term oriented attitudes perform better than students from cultures that do not emphasize the importance of delayed gratification. These students perform better in third grade reading and math tests, have larger test score gains over time, have fewer absences and disciplinary incidents, are less likely to repeat grades, and are more likely to graduate from high school in four years. Also, they are more likely to enroll in advanced high school courses, especially in scientific subjects. Parents from long term oriented cultures are more likely to secure better educational opportunities for their children. A larger fraction of immigrants speaking the same language in the school amplifies the effect of Long-Term Orientation on educational performance. We validate these results using a sample of immigrant students living in 37 different countries.