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We use teacher candidate test scores on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), linked to student and teacher outcomes in the state, to investigate the predictive validity of these teacher licensure tests. We find that MTEL scores are positive and statistically significant predictors of teachers’
in-service performance ratings and contributions to student test scores (i.e., value added) once they enter the workforce. We then explore whether these relationships vary for candidates and teachers of color. We find that teacher candidates of color have lower first-time pass rates and are also less likely to retake licensure tests if they fail than are White teacher candidates, but we do not find consistent evidence that MTEL scores are less predictive of value added for teachers of color. Finally, we find that MTEL scores are more predictive of teacher performance ratings for teachers of color than for White teachers.
Citation: James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Zeyu Jin, Roddy Theobald (2020). Teacher Licensure Tests: Barrier or Predictive Tool?. CALDER Working Paper No. 245-1020
We examine how teachers from two alternative preparation programs—Teach for America (TFA) and Kansas City Teacher Residency (KCTR)—contribute to the teacher labor market in and around Kansas City, Missouri. We show that TFA and KCTR teachers are more likely than other teachers to work in charter schools, and more broadly, in schools with high concentrations of low-income, low-performing, and underrepresented minority (Black and Hispanic) students. TFA and KCTR teachers are themselves more racially/ethnically diverse than the larger local-area teaching workforce, but only KCTR teachers are more diverse than teachers in the same districts in which they work. In math in grades 4-8 we find sizeable, positive impacts of TFA and KCTR teachers on test-score growth relative to non-program teachers. We also estimate positive impacts on test-score growth in English Language Arts (ELA) for teachers from both programs, but our ELA estimates are smaller in magnitude.
Citation: Yang An, Cory Koedel (2020). How Do Teachers from Alternative Pathways Contribute to the Teaching Workforce in Urban Areas? Evidence from Kansas City. CALDER Working Paper No. 243-0920
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
Improving public sector workforce quality is challenging in sectors such as education where worker productivity is difficult to assess and manager incentives are muted by political and bureaucratic constraints. In this paper, we study how providing improved information to principals about teacher effectiveness and encouraging them to use the information in personnel decisions affects the composition of teacher turnovers. Our setting is the Houston Independent School District, which recently implemented a rigorous teacher evaluation system. Prior to the new system, teacher effectiveness was negatively correlated with district exit and we show that the policy significantly strengthened this relationship, primarily by increasing the relative likelihood of exit for teachers in the bottom quintile of the quality distribution. Low-performing teachers working in low-achieving schools were especially likely to leave. However, despite the success, the implied change to the quality of the workforce overall is too small to have a detectable impact on student achievement.
Citation: Julie Berry Cullen, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2017). The Compositional Effect of Rigorous Teacher Evaluation on Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 168
This policy brief reviews evidence about the extent to which disadvantaged students are taught by teachers with lower value-added estimates of performance, and seeks to reconcile differences in findings from different studies. We demonstrate that much of the inequity in teacher value added in Washington state is due to differences across different districts, so studies that only investigate inequities within districts likely understate the overall inequity in the distribution of teacher effectiveness because they miss one of the primary sources of this inequity.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Vanessa Quince , Roddy Theobald (2016). Reconciling Different Estimates of Teacher Quality Gaps Based on Value Added. CALDER Working Paper No.
There is mounting evidence of substantial “teacher quality gaps” (TQGs) between advantaged and disadvantaged students, but practically no empirical evidence about their history. We use longitudinal data on public school students, teachers, and schools from two states—North Carolina and Washington—to provide a descriptive history of the evolution of TQGs in these states. We find that TQGs exist in every year in each state and for all measures we consider of student disadvantage and teacher quality. But there is variation in the magnitudes and sources of TQGs over time, between the two states, and depending on the measure of student disadvantage and teacher quality.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Vanessa Quince , Roddy Theobald (2016). Has It Always Been This Way? Tracing the Evolution of Teacher Quality Gaps in U.S. Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 171
We use longitudinal data from Washington State to provide estimates of the extent to which performance on the edTPA, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment of teacher candidates, is predictive of the likelihood of employment in the teacher workforce and value-added measures of teacher effectiveness. While edTPA scores are highly predictive of employment in the state’s public teaching workforce, evidence on the relationship between edTPA scores and teaching effectiveness is more mixed. Specifically, continuous edTPA scores are a significant predictor of student mathematics achievement in some specifications, but when we consider that the edTPA is a binary screen of teaching effectiveness (i.e., pass/fail), we find that passing the edTPA is significantly predictive of teacher effectiveness in reading but not in mathematics. We also find that Hispanic candidates in Washington were more than three times more likely to fail the edTPA after it became consequential in the state than non-Hispanic White candidates.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, James Cowan, Roddy Theobald (2016). Evaluating Prospective Teachers: Testing the Predictive Validity of the edTPA (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 157
It is widely believed that teacher turnover adversely affects the quality of instruction in urban schools serving predominantly disadvantaged children, and a growing body of research investigates various components of turnover effects. The evidence at first seems contradictory, as the quality of instruction appears to decline following turnover despite the fact that most work shows higher attrition for less effective teachers. This raises concerns that confounding factors bias estimates of transition differences in teacher effectiveness, the adverse effects of turnover or both. After taking more extensive steps to account for nonrandom sorting of students into classrooms and endogenous teacher exits and grade-switching, we replicate existing findings of adverse selection out of schools and negative effects of turnover in lower-achievement schools. But we find that these turnover effects can be fully accounted for by the resulting loss in experience and productivity loss following the reallocation of some incumbent teachers to different grades.
Citation: Eric Hanushek, Steven Rivkin, Jeffrey Schiman (2016). Dynamic Effects of Teacher Turnover on the Quality of Instruction. CALDER Working Paper No. 170
Using administrative longitudinal data from five states, we study how value-added measures of teacher performance are affected by changes in state standards and assessments. We first document the stability of teachers’ value-added rankings during transitions to new standard and assessment regimes and compare our findings to stability during stable standard and assessment regimes. We also examine the predictive validity of value-added estimates during nontransition years over transition-year student achievement. In most cases we find that measures of teacher value added are similarly stable in transition years and nontransition years. Moreover, there is no evidence that the level of disadvantage of students taught disproportionately influences teacher rankings in transition years relative to stable years. In the states we study, student achievement in math can consistently be forecasted accurately—although not perfectly—using value-added estimates for teachers during stable standards and assessment regimes. There was somewhat less consistency in reading, because we find cases where test transitions significantly reduced forecasting accuracy.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Cory Koedel, Luke Miller, Zeyu Xu (2016). The Common Core Conundrum: To What Extent Should We Worry That Changes to Assessments and Standards Will Affect Test-Based Measures of Teacher Performance?. CALDER Working Paper No. 152
We use data from six Washington State teacher education programs to investigate the relationship between teacher candidates’ student teaching experiences and their later teaching effectiveness and probability of attrition. We find that teachers who student taught in schools with lower teacher turnover are less likely to leave the state’s teaching workforce, and that teachers are more effective when the student demographics of their current school are similar to the student demographics of the school in which they did their student teaching. While descriptive, these findings suggest that the school context in which student teaching occurs has important implications for the later outcomes of teachers and their students.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John M. Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2016). Does the Match Matter? Exploring Whether Student Teaching Experiences Affect Teacher Effectiveness and Attrition. CALDER Working Paper No. 149
We use rich longitudinally matched administrative data on students and teachers in North Carolina to examine the patterns of differential effectiveness by teachers’ years of experience. The paper contributes to the literature by focusing on middle school teachers and by extending the analysis to student outcomes beyond test scores. Once we control statistically for the quality of individual teachers by the use of teacher fixed effects, we find large returns to experience for middle school teachers in the form both of higher test scores and improvements in student behavior, with the clearest behavioral effects emerging for reductions in student absenteeism. Moreover these returns extend well beyond the first few years of teaching. The paper contributes to policy debates by documenting that teachers can and do continue to learn on the job.
December 2015 Update
Citation: Helen Ladd, Lucy Sorensen (2015). Returns to Teacher Experience: Student Achievement and Motivation in Middle School. CALDER Working Paper No. 112
Recent evidence on teacher productivity suggests teachers meaningfully influence noncognitive student outcomes that are commonly overlooked by narrowly focusing on student test scores. These effects may show similar levels of variation across the teacher workforce and are not significantly correlated with value-added test score gains. Despite a large number of studies investigating the TFA effect on math and English achievement, little is known about nontested outcomes. Using administrative data from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we investigate the relationship between being in a TFA classroom and non-test student outcomes. We validate our use of nontest student outcomes to assess differences in teacher productivity using the quasi-experimental teacher switching methods of Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff (2014) and find multiple cases in which these tests reject the validity of candidate nontest outcomes. Among the cases deemed valid, we find suggestive evidence that students taught by TFA teachers in elementary and middle school were less likely to miss school due to unexcused absences and suspensions (compared to non-TFA teachers in the same school), although point estimates are very small. Other nontest outcomes were found to be valid but showed no evidence of a TFA effect.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Michael Hansen (2015). Teach For America Impact Estimates on Nontested Student Outcomes. CALDER Working Paper No. 146