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Educator preparation and teacher labor markets
We evaluate the predictive validity of the Massachusetts Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP), a practice-based assessment of teaching skills that is typically taken during a candidate’s student teaching placement and is a requirement for teacher preparation program completion in Massachusetts. We find that candidates’ performance on the CAP predicts their in-service summative performance evaluations in their first 2 years in the teaching workforce and provides a signal of these ratings beyond what is already captured by the state’s traditional licensure tests, but is not predictive of their value added to student test scores. These findings suggest that the CAP captures aspects of candidates’ skills and competencies that are better reflected in their future performance evaluations than by their impacts on student performance.
Working paper 223-1019 was orginally published in October 2019. This is an updated version, published in February 2021.
Citation: Bingjie Chen, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2019). From the Clinical Experience to the Classroom: Assessing the Predictive Validity of the Massachusetts Candidate Assessment of Performance . CALDER Working Paper No. 223-1019-2
Prior research has shown that about 15% of teachers are hired into the same school in which they student taught, about 40% are hired into their student teaching district, and the location of teachers’ student teaching placements is more predictive of where they are hired than where they went to high school or college. While this suggests that strategic student teaching placements are a potential policy lever for addressing regional teacher shortages, there is no prior empirical evidence of a relationship between student teaching placements and teacher shortages. In this paper, we describe research from Washington state that descriptively explores the relationship between student teaching placements and a proxy for teacher shortages, the proportion of new teacher hires in a school or district with emergency teaching credentials. We find that schools and districts that host fewer student teachers tend to hire significantly more new teachers with emergency credentials the following year, and that these relationships are robust to controlling for school and district urbanicity, distance to a teacher education program, and other observable school and district characteristics. This descriptive evidence suggests exploring efforts to place student teachers in schools and districts that struggle to staff their classrooms.
This paper has been published in Educational Researcher and can be found here, September 2020.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Natsumi Naito, Roddy Theobald (2019). Student Teaching and the Geography of Teacher Shortages. CALDER Working Paper No. 222-1019
A growing literature documents the importance of student teaching placements for teacher development. Emerging evidence from this literature highlights the importance of the mentor teacher who supervises this placement. This brief provides an overview of this research, which suggests that teachers tend to be more effective when they student teach with a more effective mentor. We illustrate that there is ample scope for change in student teacher placements by using data from Washington State to demonstrate that there are far more highly effective teachers who could serve as mentors in each year than who actually do serve. We also discuss the considerable challenges to improvement efforts related to the need for better coordination between teacher education programs, K–12 school systems, and states. If policymakers value teacher candidate development equivalently to teacher inservice development, we argue that they should be willing to pay mentor teachers about 15 times more to recruit a highly effective teacher to host student teachers than the average current compensation for mentor teachers.
CALDER Policy Brief No. 15-0519
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Natsumi Naito, Roddy Theobald (2019). Making the Most of Student Teaching: The Importance of Mentors and Scope for Change. CALDER Policy Brief No. 15
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
In many school districts the policies that regulate personnel are governed by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated between teachers’ unions and school boards. While there is significant policy attention and, in some cases, legislative action that has affected the scope of these agreements, there is relatively little research that assesses how CBAs vary over time, or whether they change in response to states’ legislative reforms. In this paper we compare CBAs in three states at two points in time: before and after substantial reforms in Michigan and Washington impacting collective bargaining and in California where there were no major statutory changes affecting CBAs. We find that few district characteristics predict changes in CBA restrictiveness over time, other than institutional spillovers from local bargaining structures. However, we observe that reforms to the scope of bargaining in Michigan and Washington drastically reduced the restrictiveness of Michigan and Washington CBAs relative to California.
This paper has been published in American Educational Research Journal and can be found here, October 2021.
Citation: Katharine O. Strunk, Joshua Cowen, Dan Goldhaber, Bradley D. Marianno, Tara Kilbride, Roddy Theobald (2018). Collective Bargaining and State-Level Reforms: Assessing Changes to the Restrictiveness of Collective Bargaining Agreements across Three States. CALDER Working Paper No. 210-1218-1
In the last decade, school systems have considered a variety of reforms to teacher evaluation systems. The most notable changes have been incorporating new measures of teacher effectiveness and linking evaluation results to compensation or dismissal (McGuinn, 2015; Steinberg & Donaldson, 2016). In this research brief, we consider a few topics where research has reached conclusions about the effects of reforms and others where research suggests important facts are still unknown.
CALDER Policy Brief No. 13-1218-1
Citation: Cara Jackson, James Cowan (2018). Assessing the Evidence on Teacher Evaluation Reforms. CALDER Policy Brief No. 13
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 use a novel database of the preservice apprenticeships (“student teaching placements”) of teachers in Washington State to investigate the relationship between mentor effectiveness (as measured by value added) and the future effectiveness of their mentees. We find a strong, positive relationship between the effectiveness of a teacher’s mentor and their own effectiveness in math and a more modest relationship in English Language Arts. The relationship in math is strongest early in a teacher’s career, decays significantly over time, and would be positive and statistically significant even in the presence of nonrandom sorting on unobservables of the same magnitude as the sorting on observables. Put together, this suggests that at least some of this relationship reflects a causal relationship between mentor effectiveness and the future effectiveness of their mentees in math.
This paper has been published in Labour Economics and can be found here, April 2020.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Effective Like Me? Does Having a More Productive Mentor Improve the Productivity of Mentees? . CALDER Working Paper No. 208-1118-1
We exploit within-teacher variation in the years that teachers host an apprentice (“student teacher”) in Washington State to estimate the causal effect of these apprenticeships on student achievement, both during the apprenticeship and afterwards. The average causal effect of hosting a student teacher on student performance in the year of the apprenticeship is precisely estimated and indistinguishable from zero in both math and reading, though effects are large and negative in math when ineffective teachers host an apprentice. Hosting a student teacher is also found to have modest positive impacts on student math and reading achievement in a teacher’s classroom in following years.
This paper has been published in The Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness and can be found here, February 2020.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Exploring the Impact of Student Teaching Apprenticeships on Student Achievement and Mentor Teachers . CALDER Working Paper No. 207-1118-1
We use comprehensive data on student teaching placements from 14 teacher education programs (TEPs) in Washington State to explore the sorting of teacher candidates to the teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”) and the schools in which student teaching occurs. We find that, all else equal, teachers with more experience, higher degree levels, and higher value added in math are more likely to serve as cooperating teachers, as are schools with lower levels of historical teacher turnover but with more open positions the following year. We also find that teacher candidates are more likely to be placed with cooperating teachers of the same gender and race/ethnicity, and are more likely to work with cooperating teachers and in schools with administrators who graduated from the candidate’s TEP.
This paper has been published in The Journal of Teacher Education and can be found here, July 2019.
Citation: John Krieg , Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2018). Teacher Candidate Apprenticeships: Assessing the Who and Where of Student Teaching. CALDER Working Paper No. 206-1118-1
A burgeoning literature investigates the importance of student teaching placements for teacher candidate development, but an important perspective that is largely missing from the existing literature is that of the school districts that host student teachers. In this paper, we describe the student teaching process from the perspective of Spokane Public Schools (SPS), highlighting the challenges associated with the student teacher placement process and several initiatives SPS has undertaken to improve student teaching experiences for teacher candidates. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic effort by a school district to improve the student teaching process and study the effects on teacher candidate outcomes. The initiatives undertaken by SPS illustrate the potential for districts to take a leadership role in defining the student teaching process and highlight some of the challenges inherent in hosting student teachers.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kim Harmon, Roddy Theobald (2018). A Practical Guide to Challenges and Opportunities in Student Teaching: A School District’s Perspective. CALDER Working Paper No. 205-1018-1
Student teaching has long been considered the most important component of an effective teacher education program. Recently, new research is finding links between these experiences and teacher candidates’ future effectiveness, yet relatively little is known about the student teacher placement process and, in particular, the processes that lead to the matching of teacher candidates to the in-service teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”). In this study, we examine the match process as well as the factors that influence these placement decisions. We also explore how, if at all, practices vary across teacher education programs (TEPs), districts, and schools. We find that, in broad terms, the process for matching student teachers to mentor teachers is similar across educational institutions, although TEPs and school systems sometimes face competing priorities when placing student teachers in classrooms. We also identify a problem of information asymmetry in the placement process, which leaves TEPs with questions about how cooperating teachers are selected and districts and schools with limited information with which to make thoughtful and intentional matches between candidates and cooperating teachers. Finally, we document the important role of social networks in placements and how they can advantage some TEPs, districts, and schools in this process.
Citation: Elise St. John, Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). How the Match Gets Made: Exploring Student Teacher Placements Across Teacher Education Programs, Districts, and Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 204-1018-1
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.
Principals are widely seen as a key influence on the educational environment in the schools they lead. Despite belief in the importance of principals, research has only recently focused on the import of principals for student success while taking advantage of longitudinal student-level data to address empirical challenges. To this end, several studies consider the overall effectiveness of principals as measured by value-added; this metric suggests that principals do influence student test scores, but the estimated magnitude of the influence is sensitive to statistical modeling choices. Other research suggests positive associations between principals’ time use, organizational management skills, and experience and student test achievement. Principal quality also appears to play an important role in teacher turnover and differential retention of effective teachers. That said, many empirical challenges remain, and there is relatively little research on the effects of principals on student test achievement and other student outcomes or whether principal effectiveness is associated with the path to the principalship (e.g., prior schooling experiences or training).
CALDER Policy Brief No. 10-0918-1
Citation: Kristian Holden (2018). What Do We Know About the Importance of Principals for Student Achievement?. CALDER Policy Brief No. 10
Analyses of public policy issues often rely on administrative data collected by state and local governments. The reliability of such analyses is contingent on the quality of the data and it is tempting for researchers to take the accuracy of administrative data for granted. In this paper we show how this can lead to spurious research findings. Specifically, we use two sets of administrative data on teacher compensation to study the issue of salary spiking (where end-of-career spikes in compensation are used to boost pension benefits) in Washington State. We illustrate how discrepancies in the reporting of pensionable compensation can lead one to strikingly different conclusions about the prevalence and financial implications of salary-spiking behavior. Our findings point to the importance of understanding how data collection processes and administrative uses of the data may (fail to) incentivize accuracy in reporting.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kristian Holden (2018). Public Pensions and Salary Spiking: A Cautionary Tale of Data Inaccuracy Leading to Erroneous Results. CALDER Working Paper No. 202-0918-1
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
The majority of public school teachers are enrolled in defined benefit (DB) pensions, which provide benefits based on a function of teacher’s age, experience, and end-of-career salary, and many state systems face large, unfunded liabilities. This brief considers the influence of DB pensions on the teacher labor market, including early-career retention, mobility, retirement timing, and teacher quality. In general, teachers do not appear to change their early-career retention decisions according the incentives created by DB pensions but do consider them when timing their retirement. Moreover, there is little evidence that DB pension incentives influence the quality of the teacher workforce. Lastly, there is some evidence that cross-state mobility could be impeded by these plans, with negative consequences for student achievement.
CALDER Policy Brief No. 9-0918-1
Citation: Kristian Holden (2018). Teacher Pensions and Labor Market Incentives. CALDER Policy Brief No. 9
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.
This paper has been published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectivess and can be found here, March 2022.
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