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Educator preparation and teacher labor markets
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
We use data on over 14,000 teacher candidates in Washington state, merged with employment data from the state’s public schools and Unemployment Insurance system, to investigate the career paths and earnings of teacher candidates in the state. Around 75% of candidates are employed in some education position in each of the 5 years after student teaching, but we find considerable movement from education positions outside of public schools into public school teaching positions in the first few years after candidates complete student teaching. Candidates with STEM endorsements and candidates who graduated after the Great Recession are disproportionately likely to be employed in public K–12 teaching positions compared with other education positions. Finally, candidates employed in K–12 public schools earn considerably more on average than candidates employed outside of public schools, but due to the considerable compression of teacher salaries, many candidates who do not enter teaching—particularly candidates with STEM endorsements—earn more than they would have in K–12 public schools.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald, Stephanie Liddle (2021). Lost to the System? A Descriptive Exploration of Where Teacher Candidates Find Employment and How Much They Earn. CALDER Working Paper No. 251-0421
CALDER Policy Brief No. 22-0221
The overwhelming majority of public school teachers enter the teaching profession only after completing an apprenticeship as a student teacher. A growing body of research demonstrates how important the student teaching experience, also known as clinical practice, is for developing teaching capacities and shaping teacher career paths. But recent evidence also points to the broader ramifications of student teacher placements for teacher hiring and staffing challenges, particularly in rural and disadvantaged schools. In this piece, we summarize the connections between student teaching and the problems that some districts and schools face in staffing teaching positions. We argue that pandemic-induced changes to student teaching can be leveraged to address these longstanding issues in the teacher pipeline.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2021). Re-Thinking the Geography of Student Teaching Placements in a Post-COVID World. CALDER Working Paper No.
We use a novel database of over 15,000 teacher candidates from 15 teacher education programs in Washington state to investigate the connections between specific teacher preparation experiences (e.g., endorsements, licensure test scores, and student teaching placements) and the likelihood that these candidates enter and leave the state’s public teaching workforce within their first 2 years. As has been found in prior research, candidates with endorsements in hard-to-staff subjects like science, technology, engineering, and math and special education are significantly more likely to enter the public teaching workforce than candidates with elementary endorsements. We also find large differences in hiring rates over time, as candidates who graduated in the years prior to and during the Great Recession are far less likely to be hired than candidates in recent years. Finally, teacher candidates hired into the same school type (elementary, middle, or high school) or into schools and classrooms with similar student demographics as their student teaching placement are more likely to stay in the teaching workforce than other candidates who experience less alignment.
This paper was published in the Journal of Teacher Education in July 2021 and can be found here.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald, Marcelle Goggins (2020). Front End to Back End: Teacher Preparation, Workforce Entry, and Attrition. CALDER Working Paper No. 246-1220
CALDER Policy Brief No. 21-1120
Understanding the early teacher pipeline, how many and what types of individuals are pursuing a teaching credential, is critically important. Unfortunately, the two national data collections that can be used to explore this provide incomplete and contrasting pictures. We find that Title II and Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) information about the early teacher pipeline diverge in the number of individuals completing their training as teachers. Title II is explicitly intended to describe the early teacher pipeline, but undercounts teacher candidates. IPEDS also provides an incomplete picture as, for instance, it likely suffers from “double counting”. In the concluding section we describe changes to data collection that could lead to more accurate and detailed information about the early teacher pipeline.
This policy brief was originally posted Novermber 2020 and was updated April 2021.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Kristian Holden (2020). Understanding the Early Teacher Pipeline: What We Can (and, Importantly, Can't) Learn from National Data. CALDER Working Paper No.
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.
This paper was published in AERA Open in June 2021 and can be found here.
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
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
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.
This paper was published in Economics of Education Review in August 2021 and can be found here.
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
CALDER Policy Brief No. 20-0620
One of the unfortunate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the sharp downturn in tax revenues, in the absence of a federal bailout, likely foretells unprecedented cuts in state and local budgets. This will in turn mean large cuts in teaching positions across the country; indeed, some projections suggest that the number of teacher layoffs in public schools could be in the hundreds of thousands.
There is little doubt that this will have significant impacts on students. But we’ve also learned some lessons from the Great Recession, the last time that layoffs (and the threat of layoffs) were a prominent feature of the education landscape. These lessons won’t allow policymakers to eliminate the educational harm associated with layoffs, but they do suggest concrete ways to mitigate the harm to students associated with painful cuts to educational budgets. In this policy brief, we describe some of the research on the effects of teacher layoffs, and what it suggests about impacts on students.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2020). The COVID-19 Crisis and Teacher Layoffs: Research on How to Mitigate Harm. CALDER Working Paper No.
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.
This paper was published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in July 2021 and can be found here.
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
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.
This paper has been published in Exceptional Children and can be found here, April 2021.
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
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.
This paper has been published in Educational Researcher and can be found here, September 2020.
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
CALDER Policy Brief No. 19-1119
Theory suggests that clinical experiences—sometimes referred to as pre-service teaching, internships, or student teaching—affect teacher effectiveness by connecting teacher preparation coursework to PK–12 students and schools. Until recently, we have had little quantitative evidence indicating that these clinical experiences matter. This brief provides an overview of some of the research documenting the connections between different components of clinical experience—such as school culture, performance assessments, mentor teacher performance, and congruence between student teaching and in-service environments—and the in-service outcomes of teachers. Recent evidence shows that the environment in the schools in which clinical practice occurs, the alignment between the student demographics of internship schools and early career schools, is associated with the later effectiveness of those teacher candidates who go on to become teachers. There is also increasing evidence pointing toward to the value of working with an effective and/or high-performing mentor (also known as “cooperating”) teacher. This brief also highlights areas where less is definitively known (or no quantitative evidence exists), such as whether the introduction of assessments (like edTPA) improve teacher effectiveness.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Venessa Keesler (2019). What Do We Know About the Effects of Clinical Practice Experiences and Teacher Performance?. CALDER Working Paper No.