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Educator preparation and teacher labor markets
Graduates of special education teacher education programs can teach in a range of special education settings, raising the potential that their training can occur in very different settings than where they find their first jobs. We follow 263 completers of Moderate Disabilities programs in Massachusetts from their field placements to their early-career teaching positions and study the characteristics of their field placements and the degree to which these are aligned with their early-career teaching positions. We also assess the degree to which alignment is associated with early-career teacher turnover. We found that many of these teachers student-taught in an inclusive setting but were hired into a self-contained special education setting and vice versa, and teachers who experienced this misalignment were more likely to leave the workforce early in their careers. Teachers who student taught with a supervising practitioner without a special education license were also more likely to leave early. Findings suggest that teachers training to educate students with learning disabilities should student teach in a setting that is aligned with where they are likely to be hired, and with a supervising practitioner who is trained in special education.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Zeyu Jin, Roddy Theobald (2024). Misalignments Between Student Teaching Placements and Initial Teaching Positions: Implications for the Early-Career Attrition of Special Education Teachers. CALDER Working Paper No. 293-0224
We study the impact of a bonus policy implemented by Hawai‘i Public Schools starting in fall 2020 that raised the salaries of all special education teachers in the state by $10,000. We estimate that the introduction of this policy reduced the proportion of vacant special education teaching positions by 32%, or 1.2 percentage points, and the proportion of special education positions that were vacant or filled by an unlicensed teacher by 35%, or 4.0 percentage points. The bonus policy did not have significant impacts on special education teacher retention; instead, the impacts of the policy were driven almost entirely by an increase in the number of general education teachers in the state who moved into open special education teaching positions. The effects of the bonus policy were also largest in historically hard-to-staff schools in which all teachers also received “tiered school” bonuses of up to $8,000. Hawai‘i therefore represents a unique but instructive case of how strategic financial incentives can help address special education teacher shortages.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Zeyu Xu, Allison Gilmour, Lisa Lachlan-Hache, Liz Bettini, Nathan Jones (2023). The Impact of a $10,000 Bonus on Special Education Teacher Shortages in Hawai‘i. CALDER Working Paper No. 290-0823
Nationally, more than 75% of individuals who are credentialed to teach are prepared in traditional college- or university-based teacher education programs (TEPs). But the college and employment pathways that prospective teachers take to TEP enrollment and completion have not been comprehensively examined. A better understanding of how credentialed individuals find their way into TEPs helps us understand the sources of new teacher supply early in the prospective teacher pipeline. With that in mind, we analyze pathways into and through TEPs using historical postsecondary and unemployment insurance data from Washington state. We find that the pathways are quite varied with around 40% of bachelor’s-level TEP completers spending at least some time in community colleges and less than 40% enrolling and finishing at the same university directly after high school. Pathways to master’s TEP completion are even more varied, with almost half of the completers having prior employment experience. For researchers, this varied landscape raises important questions about the relationship between pathways, candidate persistence, and eventual job performance. For policymakers, the results suggest that efforts to recruit the next generation of teachers need to look beyond the pool of students already enrolled at a 4-year university to include students at 2-year colleges or in the labor force who might be interested in entering a TEP.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Stephanie Liddle, Roddy Theobald (2023). The Long and Winding Road: Mapping the College and Employment Pathways to Teacher Education Program Completion in Washington State. CALDER Working Paper No. 288-0723
This study investigated the underexplored topic of teacher preparation program admissions processes by interviewing faculty and analyzing program documents. We investigated how 31 K-12 mathematics and science teacher preparation programs (MSTPPs) and faculty attend to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social and racial justice (DEIJ). Specific foci included applicant recruitment and selection, components of applications (e.g., forms, essays, interviews), and how applicants’ DEIJ-related information and orientations factor into admissions. We found that all MSTPPs participating in the study collected information related to DEIJ (e.g., applicants’ ethnoracial backgrounds, citizenship), and all interviewed faculty expressed an interest in increasing the diversity of applicants and admitted students. Faculty expressed preferences for applicants who evidenced positive DEIJ orientations, such as recognizing social and ethnoracial injustices, but at the same time, differences were evident in how MSTPPs and faculty attended to DEIJ. Considerations, implication, and dilemmas for teacher preparation programs and faculty are discussed.
Citation: Amy Roth McDuffie, David Slavit, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald, Nicole Griggs (2023). Attention to Equity in Teacher Education Admissions Processes. CALDER Working Paper No. 287-0623
The onset of the pandemic in spring 2020 substantially disrupted routes into teaching and offered a unique opportunity to study this process with different requirements for initial entry into the classroom. We examine the impacts of the Temporary Certificate of Eligibility (Temporary CE), which allowed teacher candidates in New Jersey to enter the workforce before completing assessment and performance requirements. Relative to the novice teacher workforce before the pandemic, Temporary CE teachers were substantially more diverse without any significant effects on teacher performance or student test scores. However, Temporary CE holders were less likely to remain in the same school or in the New Jersey teaching workforce between 2020–21 and 2021–22. Although Temporary CE holders disproportionately entered through alternate routes into teaching, these patterns hold for both traditional- and alternate-route entrants.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Dan Goldhaber (2023). The Relationship Between Pandemic-Era Teacher Licensure Waivers and Teacher Demographics, Retention, and Effectiveness in New Jersey. CALDER Working Paper No. 286-0623
This qualitative study examines the information collected about applicants to mathematics or science teacher preparation programs (MSTPPs) and how university faculty perceive and value this information in admissions decisions. Based on document review and interviews with MSTPP faculty and admissions directors, we found that broad measures of mathematics and science content background (e.g., achievement test scores, past mathematics and science courses taken) were used more frequently than information on applicants’ specific mathematics and science content knowledge and dispositions. In many cases, application components (such as interviews and personal essay statements) were perceived by faculty to be conducive to surfacing applicants’ content knowledge and dispositions; however, they were not constructed or employed in a way that afforded the obtainment of this information. We highlight salient examples of MSTPPs’ collection and use of information related to mathematics and science and discuss implications for TPP admissions processes.
Citation: David Slavit, Amy Roth McDuffie, Nicole Griggs, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2023). Faculty Perspectives and Values Toward Mathematics and Science Content Information Used in Teacher Preparation Admissions Processes. CALDER Working Paper No. 285-0623
Prior research has connected characteristics of cooperating teachers who supervise student teaching to performance measures of the teacher candidates they host, suggesting more effective teachers may also be better mentors. The specific measures of cooperating teacher effectiveness considered in this prior literature (value added and performance evaluations), however, are infrequently observable to individuals responsible for student teaching placements. In this paper, we consider a more easily observed proxy for mentor effectiveness: National Board (NB) Certification. We find that NB teachers are considerably more likely to host candidates than other teachers, candidates supervised by NB teachers are slightly more likely to be hired within three years, and these candidates have slightly lower value added in English language arts than their peers, all else being equal. We find no significant relationship between cooperating teacher NB certification and candidates’ later attrition and value added in math. We conclude that individuals and policies seeking to leverage student teaching placements to improve student and teacher outcomes may need to focus on less easily observable proxies of cooperating teacher quality than NB certification status.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald, Grace Falken (2023). National Board Certification as a Signal of Cooperating Teacher Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 284-0523
Several decades of research using school administrative data show that teacher quality is inequitably distributed across schools. But these estimates may understate teacher-related inequities if they do not account for how teacher vacancies or late hires are distributed across schools. We investigate these hiring issues using data on a direct proxy of school hiring needs: teacher job postings collected from public school district websites. These data allow us to document how, over the course of the school year, hiring needs vary across districts, schools, and subject areas. We find that schools serving more students of color have greater hiring needs throughout the hiring cycle. We also find that hiring needs for special education and STEM positions are consistently higher than hiring needs for elementary positions. Schools with growing enrollments, as well as schools and subjects with higher prior attrition rates, also tend to have more job postings. Postings for schools in towns and rural areas tend to stay open longer than for schools in suburban and urban areas. Finally, we validate that job postings, which can be obtained quickly and inexpensively, are a good indicator of school and district needs in that they closely line up with eventual teacher hires.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Grace Falken, Roddy Theobald (2023). What Do Teacher Job Postings Tell Us about School Hiring Needs and Equity?. CALDER Working Paper No. 282-0323
A fundamental question for education policy is whether outcomes-based accountability, including comprehensive educator evaluations and a closer relationship between effectiveness and compensation, improves the quality of instruction and raises achievement. We use synthetic control methods to study the comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation and compensation systems introduced in the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) in 2013 for principals and 2015 for teachers. Under this far-reaching reform, educator evaluations that are used to support teacher growth and determine salary depend on a combination of supervisor evaluations, student achievement, and student or family survey responses. The reform replaced salary scales based on experience and educational attainment with those based on evaluation scores, a radical departure from decades of rigid salary schedules. The synthetic control estimates reveal positive and significant effects of the reforms on math and reading achievement that increase over time. From 2015 through 2019, the average achievement for the synthetic control district fluctuates narrowly between -0.27 s.d. and -0.3 s.d., while the Dallas ISD average increases steadily from -0.28 s.d. in 2015 to -0.08 s.d. in 2019, the final year of the sample. Though the increase for reading is roughly half as large, it is also highly significant.
Citation: Eric Hanushek, Jin Luo, Andrew Morgan, Minh Nguyen, Ben Ost, Steven Rivkin, Ayman Shakeel (2023). The Effects of Comprehensive Educator Evaluation and Pay Reform on Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 281-0323
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.
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