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Educator preparation and teacher labor markets
Efforts to attract and retain effective educators in high-poverty public schools have had limited success. Dallas ISD addressed this challenge with information produced by its evaluation system to offer large, compensating differentials to highly effective teachers willing to work in its lowest-achievement schools. The Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) program resulted in immediate and sustained achievement increases. The improvements were dramatic, bringing average achievement in the previously lowest-performing schools close to the district average. When ACE stipends are largely eliminated, a substantial fraction of highly effective teachers leave, and test scores fall. This highlights the central importance of performance-based incentives.
Citation: Andrew Morgan, Minh Nguyen, Eric Hanushek, Ben Ost, Steven Rivkin (2023). Attracting and Retaining Highly Effective Educators in Hard-to-Staff Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 280-0323
The decision to close schools in March 2020 was a massive disruption to public education. But pandemic-related closures did more than put in-person instruction on hold. School closures also meant that teacher candidates could not complete their student teaching experiences (Choate et al., 2021). And when licensure test centers closed, prospective teachers could not sit for the exams they needed to get credentialed. As COVID wreaked havoc on the school system—and worries over staffing shortages grew—most states responded to these disruptions by modifying and relaxing their requirements for becoming a teacher during the pandemic.
Three years later, the negative consequences of school closures for students are well known: learning declined and pre-existing inequities grew (Goldhaber et al., 2022). But how (if at all) changes to licensure requirements affected teachers and students is less clear. To provide an initial picture of what happened, this research brief describes the nature of pandemic-era licensure modifications, how many teachers they might have affected, and why we should care. Our rough estimate suggests that around 100,000 graduates of traditional preparation programs might have entered the profession under changed licensure rules in 2020-2021.
Citation: Michael DeArmond, Dan Goldhaber, Sydney Payne (2023). COVID's Under-the-Radar Experiment with Teacher Licensure. CALDER Policy Brief No. 33
We use publicly available, longitudinal data from Washington state to study the extent to which three interrelated processes—teacher attrition from the state teaching workforce, teacher mobility between teaching positions, and teacher hiring for open positions—contribute to “teacher quality gaps” (TQGs) between students of color and other students in K–12 public schools. Specifically, we develop and implement an agent-based model simulation of decisions about attrition, mobility, and hiring to assess the extent to which each process contributes to observed TQGs. We find that eliminating inequities in teacher mobility and hiring across different schools would close TQGs within 5 years, while just eliminating inequities in teacher hiring would close gaps within 10 years. On the other hand, eliminating inequities in teacher attrition without addressing mobility and hiring does little to close gaps.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Matt Kasman, Vanessa Quince, Roddy Theobald, Malcolm Wolff (2023). How Did It Get This Way? Disentangling the Sources of Teacher Quality Gaps Through Agent-Based Modeling. CALDER Working Paper No. 259-0223
Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic era, concerns about teacher turnover and teacher shortages remain at the top of the education agenda. But contrary to media reports about a “wave of resignations and retirements” (e.g., Heller, 2021), early evidence from state databases showed a more nuanced picture: teacher attrition was actually down during the pandemic’s first year (teachers leaving after the 2019–2020 school year) before it increased somewhat in the next year (e.g., Bacher-Hicks et al., 2021, 2022; Bastian & Fuller, 2023; Camp et al., 2022; CERRA, 2022; Goldhaber & Theobald, 2022a,b).
In this policy brief, we follow-up and expand on our earlier analyses of teacher mobility and attrition in Washington state with an additional year of data from the 2022-23 school year. We draw on a longitudinal database of school staffing in Washington, the S-275, which now provides 39 years of annual data on teachers and other school employees in the state.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2023). Teacher Turnover Three Years into the Pandemic Era: Evidence from Washington State. CALDER Policy Brief No. 32
We use data on high school students and teachers from Washington state to connect the observable characteristics of career and technical education (CTE) teachers to various non-test outcomes (absences, disciplinary incidents, grade point average, grade progression, and on-time graduation) of students with and without disabilities in their classrooms. We find that students participating in CTE tend to have better non-test outcomes when they are assigned to a CTE teacher from the state’s Business and Industry pathway—designed for CTE teachers with 3 years of industry experience but no formal teacher preparation—relative to being assigned to a traditionally prepared CTE teacher. These results can inform efforts in Washington and across the country to develop and support similar alternative routes to CTE teacher licensure.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Erica Mallett Moore (2023). CTE Teachers and Non-Test Outcomes for Students With and Without Disabilities. CALDER Working Paper No. 278-0123
This paper examines the impact of Teach For America (TFA) on following-year student test and non-test outcomes in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This paper measures the extent to which exposure to TFA is followed by improved student outcomes in the future. In particular, this paper measures days missed due to absences or suspensions, course grades in each core subject, and progression in math courses. We find that students taught by TFA math teachers go on to have higher grades in math courses in the following year and are less likely to miss school due to being absent or suspended. However, while students in TFA classrooms score higher on math and ELA assessments in a given year, these test score gains fade out by the following year.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Michael Hansen (2023). Persistent Teach for America Effects on Student Test and Non-Test Academic Outcomes. CALDER Working Paper No. 277-0123
Prior work on teacher candidates in Washington State has shown that about two thirds of individuals who trained to become teachers between 2005 and 2015 and received a teaching credential did not enter the state’s public teaching workforce immediately after graduation, while about one third never entered a public teaching job in the state at all. In this analysis, we link data on these teacher candidates to unemployment insurance data in the state to provide a descriptive portrait of the future earnings and wages of these individuals inside and outside of public schools. Candidates who initially became public school teachers earned considerably more, on average, than candidates who were initially employed either in other education positions or in other sectors of the state’s workforce. These differences persisted at least 10 years into the average career and across transitions into and out of teaching. There is therefore little evidence that teacher candidates who did not become teachers were lured into other professions by higher compensation. Instead, the patterns are consistent with demand-side constraints on teacher hiring during this time period that resulted in individuals who wanted to become teachers taking positions that offered lower wages but could lead to future teaching positions.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Stephanie Liddle, Roddy Theobald (2022). Out of the Gate, but Not Necessarily Teaching: A Descriptive Portrait of Early-Career Earnings for Those Who Are Credentialed to Teach. CALDER Working Paper No. 263-0422
Over the last two decades, twenty-two states have moved away from traditional defined benefit (DB) pension systems and toward pension plan structures like the defined contribution (DC) plans now prevalent in the private sector. Others are considering such a reform as it is seen as a means of limiting future pension funding risk. It is important to understand the implications of such reforms for end-of-career exit patterns and workforce composition. Empirical evidence on the relationship between pension plan structure and retirement timing is currently limited, primarily because most state pension reforms are so new that few employees enrolled in those alternative plans have reached retirement age. An exception, and the subject of our analysis, is the teacher retirement system in Washington State, which introduced a hybrid DB-DC plan in 1996 and allowed employees in its traditional DB plan to transfer into the new plan. Our analysis focuses on a years-of-service threshold, the crossing of which grants employees early retirement eligibility and, in many cases, a large upward shift in retirement wealth. The financial implications of crossing this threshold are far greater under the state’s traditional DB plan than under the hybrid plan. We find that employees are responsive to crossing the years-of-service threshold, but we fail to find significant evidence that the propensity to exit the workforce varies according to plan enrollment.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kristian Holden, Josh McGee (2022). Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? An Analysis of Pension Structure and Retirement Timing. CALDER Working Paper No. 262-0322
Two recent CALDER studies published in Exceptional Children provide new evidence about special education teacher preparation and its implications for students with disabilities. The first study (Theobald et al., 2021) shows that special educators who received dual endorsements in special education and another subject had lower rates of workforce entry and retention in special education classrooms. The second study (Theobald et al., 2022) demonstrates that students with disabilities experienced greater reading gains when their district and their special education teacher’s preparation program both used/emphasized evidence-based literacy practices. Together, these papers suggest caution around state-level policies that seek to use dual licensure to address special education teacher shortages, but also suggest potential promise around better aligning special educator literacy preparation and practice as a policy lever for improving reading outcomes for students with disabilities. Future research could study specific policy interventions to design dual-license programs, address special educator shortages, and better align special educator preparation and practice.
Citation: Roddy Theobald (2022). New Evidence on Special Education Teacher Preparation. CALDER Policy Brief No. 31
In this flash brief, we frame the magnitude of teacher attrition during the pandemic, including from the 2020–2021 school year to the 2021–22 school year, using publicly available data on the public teaching workforce in Washington. Specifically, we compare attrition rates during the pandemic to attrition during pre-pandemic years, spanning the 1984–1985 school year to the 2018–2019 school year. We also report the relationship between attrition rates and district vacancies and compare changes in teacher turnover rates to differences in these rates between different kinds of schools.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2022). Teacher Attrition and Mobility in the Pandemic. CALDER Policy Brief No. 30
CALDER Policy Brief No. 29-0122
In this CALDER Flash brief, we describe what we have learned about the staffing challenges faced by various kinds of school districts endeavoring to hire different school personnel in Fall of 2021.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz (2022). School District Staffing Challenges in a Rapidly Recovering Economy. CALDER Policy Brief No. 29
CALDER Policy Brief No. 28-1121
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Etai Mizrav (2021). The Prospective Teacher Pipeline: Simulation Evidence on Levers to Influence Teacher Diversity. CALDER Policy Brief No. 28
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.
This paper has been published in Exceptional Children, March 2022, and can be found here.
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
CALDER Policy Brief No. 24-0421
"Sometimes a Simple Analysis Tells the Story"
Citation: Chad Aldeman, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2021). Examining the Dimensions of Teacher Turnover. CALDER Policy Brief No. 24
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.
This paper has been published in the May 2022 issue of Educational Researcher, and can be found here.
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. 23-0421
"Sometimes a Simple Analysis Tells the Story"
This policy brief has been published in Eductional Researcher, November 2021, and can be found here.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2021). Teacher Attrition and Mobility Over Time. CALDER Policy Brief No. 23
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 Policy Brief No. 22
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.
This policy brief has been published in Phi Delta Kappan, Novemeber 2021, and can be viewed here.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Kristian Holden (2020). Understanding the Early Teacher Pipeline: What We Can (and, Importantly, Can't) Learn from National Data. CALDER Policy Brief No. 21
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