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Educator preparation and teacher labor markets
This paper examines the influence of teacher assistants and other personnel on student outcomes in elementary schools during a period of recession-induced cutbacks in teachers and teacher assistants. Using panel data from North Carolina, we exploit the state’s unique system of financing its local public schools to identify the causal effects of teacher assistants and other staff on student test scores in math and reading and other outcomes. We find strong and consistent evidence of positive contributions of teacher assistants, an understudied staffing category, with larger effects on outcomes for minority students than for white students.
Citation: Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd (2017). Teaching Assistants and Nonteaching Staff: Do They Improve Student Outcomes? (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 169
State-specific licensing policies and pension plans create mobility costs for educators who cross state lines. We empirically test whether these costs affect production in schools – a hypothesis that follows directly from economic theory on labor frictions – using geocoded data on school locations and state boundaries. We find that achievement is lower in mathematics, and to a lesser extent in reading, at schools that are more exposed to state boundaries. A detailed investigation of the selection of schools into boundary regions yields no indication of systematic differences between boundary and non-boundary schools along other measured dimensions. Moreover, we show that cross-district labor frictions do not explain state boundary effects. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that mobility frictions in educator labor markets near state boundaries lower student achievement.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky (2017). Labor Market Frictions and Production Efficiency in Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 166
We study how the introduction of a rigorous teacher evaluation system in a large urban school district affects the quality composition of teacher turnovers. With the implementation of the new system, we document increased turnover among the least effective teachers and decreased turnover among the most effective teachers, relative to teachers in the middle of the distribution. Our findings demonstrate that the alignment between personnel decisions and teacher effectiveness can be improved through targeted personnel policies. However, the change in the composition of exiters brought on by the policy we study is too small to meaningfully impact student achievement.
Working Paper 168-0717 was updated March 2019, it was orginally published July 2017.
Citation: Julie Berry Cullen, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2017). The Compositional Effect of Rigorous Teacher Evaluation on Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 168
Public school teachers retire much earlier than comparable professionals. Pension rule changes affecting new teachers can be used to close this gap in the long run, but any effects will not be observed for decades and the implications for workforce quality are unclear. This paper considers targeted incentive policies designed to retain experienced high-need teachers, of retirement age, as instruments to extend current teachers’ careers. We use structural estimates from a dynamic retirement model to simulate the workforce effects of targeted late-career salary bonuses and deferred retirement (DROP) plans using administrative data from Missouri. The simulations suggest that such programs can be cost-effective, partly because long-term pension savings offset a portion of upfront program costs. More generally, we demonstrate the utility of using structural retirement models to analyze fiscal and workforce effects of changes to public sector pension plans, since the effects of pension reforms cumulate over many years.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Weiwei Wu (2017). Pensions and Late Career Teacher Retention (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 164
We investigate the relationship between teacher licensure test scores and student test achievement and high school course-taking. We focus on three subject/grade combinations—middle school math, ninth-grade algebra and geometry, and ninth-grade biology—and find evidence that a teacher’s basic skills test scores are modestly predictive of student achievement in middle and high school math and highly predictive of student achievement in high school biology. A teacher’s subject-specific licensure test scores are a consistent and statistically significant predictor of student achievement only in high school biology. Finally, we find little evidence that students assigned to middle school teachers with higher basic-skills test scores are more likely to take advanced math and science courses in high school.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz, Roddy Theobald (2016). What’s in a Teacher Test? Assessing the Relationship between Teacher Licensure Test Scores and Student Secondary STEM Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 158
We rely on natural experiments in North Carolina and Washington State, which previously extended time to tenure by one year, to estimate models that assess the relationship between the extended probationary period and absence and attrition outcomes for teachers affected by the new tenure laws. Across both states we find evidence of decreases in teacher absences for probationary teachers who are subject to the new extended tenure laws, and in Washington, we find a significant reduction in absences in the specific year in which tenure was extended. We find mixed evidence for teacher attrition and mobility.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Michael Hansen, Joe Walch (2016). Time to Tenure: Does Tenure Reform Affect Teacher Absence Behavior and Mobility? . CALDER Working Paper No. 172
This policy brief reviews evidence about the extent to which disadvantaged students are taught by teachers with lower value-added estimates of performance, and seeks to reconcile differences in findings from different studies. We demonstrate that much of the inequity in teacher value added in Washington state is due to differences across different districts, so studies that only investigate inequities within districts likely understate the overall inequity in the distribution of teacher effectiveness because they miss one of the primary sources of this inequity.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Vanessa Quince, Roddy Theobald (2016). Reconciling Different Estimates of Teacher Quality Gaps Based on Value Added. CALDER Policy Brief No. 141 216
There is mounting evidence of substantial “teacher quality gaps” (TQGs) between advantaged and disadvantaged students, but practically no empirical evidence about their history. We use longitudinal data on public school students, teachers, and schools from two states—North Carolina and Washington—to provide a descriptive history of the evolution of TQGs in these states. We find that TQGs exist in every year in each state and for all measures we consider of student disadvantage and teacher quality. But there is variation in the magnitudes and sources of TQGs over time, between the two states, and depending on the measure of student disadvantage and teacher quality.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Vanessa Quince, Roddy Theobald (2016). Has It Always Been This Way? Tracing the Evolution of Teacher Quality Gaps in U.S. Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 171
We use longitudinal data from Washington State to provide estimates of the extent to which performance on the edTPA, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment of teacher candidates, is predictive of the likelihood of employment in the teacher workforce and value-added measures of teacher effectiveness. While edTPA scores are highly predictive of employment in the state’s public teaching workforce, evidence on the relationship between edTPA scores and teaching effectiveness is more mixed. Specifically, continuous edTPA scores are a significant predictor of student mathematics achievement in some specifications, but when we consider that the edTPA is a binary screen of teaching effectiveness (i.e., pass/fail), we find that passing the edTPA is significantly predictive of teacher effectiveness in reading but not in mathematics. We also find that Hispanic candidates in Washington were more than three times more likely to fail the edTPA after it became consequential in the state than non-Hispanic White candidates.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, James Cowan, Roddy Theobald (2016). Evaluating Prospective Teachers: Testing the Predictive Validity of the edTPA (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. 157
It is widely believed that teacher turnover adversely affects the quality of instruction in urban schools serving predominantly disadvantaged children, and a growing body of research investigates various components of turnover effects. The evidence at first seems contradictory, as the quality of instruction appears to decline following turnover despite the fact that most work shows higher attrition for less effective teachers. This raises concerns that confounding factors bias estimates of transition differences in teacher effectiveness, the adverse effects of turnover or both. After taking more extensive steps to account for nonrandom sorting of students into classrooms and endogenous teacher exits and grade-switching, we replicate existing findings of adverse selection out of schools and negative effects of turnover in lower-achievement schools. But we find that these turnover effects can be fully accounted for by the resulting loss in experience and productivity loss following the reallocation of some incumbent teachers to different grades.
Citation: Eric Hanushek, Steven Rivkin, Jeffrey Schiman (2016). Dynamic Effects of Teacher Turnover on the Quality of Instruction. CALDER Working Paper No. 170
CALDER Policy Brief No. 3-1116-1
Though policymakers are increasingly concerned about teacher shortages in U.S. public schools, the national discussion does not reflect historical patterns of the supply of and demand for newly-minted teachers. Specifically, the production of teacher candidates has increased steadily since the mid-1980s, and only about half of graduating teacher candidates are hired as public school teachers in a typical year. That said, there is considerable evidence of teacher shortages in specific subjects (e.g., STEM and special education) and in specific types of schools (e.g., disadvantaged). We therefore discuss public policies that contribute to these specific shortages and potential solutions.
Citation: James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Kyle Hayes, Roddy Theobald (2016). Missing Elements in the Discussion of Teacher Shortages. CALDER Policy Brief No. 3
Most public school teachers in the United States are enrolled in defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Using administrative micro data from four states, combined with national pension funding data, we show these plans have accumulated substantial unfunded liabilities – effectively debt – owing to previous plan operations. On average across state plans, over 10 percent of current teachers’ earnings are being set aside to pay for previously-accrued pension liabilities. This amounts to a large reduction in real operating spending per student. Our findings make clear that a significant fraction of the resources allocated toward teacher compensation in current public education budgets is not being invested in resources to educate today’s students at all.
August 2016 Update; Originally posted November 2015
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, P. Brett Xiang, Zeyu Xu (2016). Benefit or Burden? On the Intergenerational Inequity of Teacher Pension Plans. CALDER Working Paper No. 148
In practice, teacher turnover appears to have negative effects on school quality as measured by student performance. However, some simulations suggest that turnover can instead have large, positive effects under a policy regime in which low-performing teachers can be accurately identified and replaced with more effective teachers. This study examines this question by evaluating the effects of teacher turnover on student achievement under IMPACT, the unique performance-assessment and incentive system in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Employing a quasi-experimental design based on data from the first year years of IMPACT, we find that, on average, DCPS replaced teachers who left with teachers who increased student achievement by 0.08 SD in math. When we isolate the effects of lower-performing teachers who were induced to leave DCPS for poor performance, we find that student achievement improves by larger and statistically significant amounts (i.e., 0.14 SD in reading and 0.21 SD in math). In contrast, the effect of exits by teachers not sanctioned under IMPACT is typically negative but not statistically significant.
Citation: Melinda Adnot, Thomas Dee, Veronica Katz, James Wyckoff (2016). Teacher Turnover, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement in DCPS. CALDER Working Paper No. 153
Using administrative longitudinal data from five states, we study how value-added measures of teacher performance are affected by changes in state standards and assessments. We first document the stability of teachers’ value-added rankings during transitions to new standard and assessment regimes and compare our findings to stability during stable standard and assessment regimes. We also examine the predictive validity of value-added estimates during nontransition years over transition-year student achievement. In most cases we find that measures of teacher value added are similarly stable in transition years and nontransition years. Moreover, there is no evidence that the level of disadvantage of students taught disproportionately influences teacher rankings in transition years relative to stable years. In the states we study, student achievement in math can consistently be forecasted accurately—although not perfectly—using value-added estimates for teachers during stable standards and assessment regimes. There was somewhat less consistency in reading, because we find cases where test transitions significantly reduced forecasting accuracy.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Cory Koedel, Luke Miller, Zeyu Xu (2016). The Common Core Conundrum: To What Extent Should We Worry That Changes to Assessments and Standards Will Affect Test-Based Measures of Teacher Performance?. CALDER Working Paper No. 152
Educators raise concerns about what happens to students when they are exposed to new teachers or teachers who are new to a school. These teachers face the challenge of preparing a year’s worth of new material, perhaps in an unfamiliar work environment. However, even when teachers remain in the same school they can switch assignments—teaching either a different grade or a different subject than they have taught before. While there exists some quasi-experimental literature on the effects for student achievement of being new to the profession (e.g., Rockoff, 2004) or to a school (Hanushek & Rivkin, 2010), to date there is little evidence about how much within-school churn typically happens and how it affects students. We use longitudinal panel data from New York City from 1974 to 2010 to document the phenomenon, and we tie assignment-switching behaviors to available student achievement in the period since 1999.
Citation: Allison Atteberry, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff (2016). High Rates of Within-School Teacher Reassignments and Implications for Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 151
We use data from six Washington State teacher education programs to investigate the relationship between teacher candidates’ student teaching experiences and their later teaching effectiveness and probability of attrition. We find that teachers who student taught in schools with lower teacher turnover are less likely to leave the state’s teaching workforce, and that teachers are more effective when the student demographics of their current school are similar to the student demographics of the school in which they did their student teaching. While descriptive, these findings suggest that the school context in which student teaching occurs has important implications for the later outcomes of teachers and their students.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2016). Does the Match Matter? Exploring Whether Student Teaching Experiences Affect Teacher Effectiveness and Attrition. CALDER Working Paper No. 149
CALDER Policy Brief 2-0116-1
This CALDER Explainer reviews empirical evidence about the relationship between specific aspects of teacher education and schooling outcomes, and suggests directions for future research
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2016). CALDER Explainers: Re-Framing the Discussion about Teacher Education. CALDER Policy Brief No. 2
We use rich longitudinally matched administrative data on students and teachers in North Carolina to examine the patterns of differential effectiveness by teachers’ years of experience. The paper contributes to the literature by focusing on middle school teachers and by extending the analysis to student outcomes beyond test scores. Once we control statistically for the quality of individual teachers by the use of teacher fixed effects, we find large returns to experience for middle school teachers in the form both of higher test scores and improvements in student behavior, with the clearest behavioral effects emerging for reductions in student absenteeism. Moreover these returns extend well beyond the first few years of teaching. The paper contributes to policy debates by documenting that teachers can and do continue to learn on the job.
December 2015 Update
Citation: Helen Ladd, Lucy C. Sorensen (2015). Returns to Teacher Experience: Student Achievement and Motivation in Middle School. CALDER Working Paper No. 112
Rising costs of public employee pension plans are a source of fiscal stress in many cities and states and have led to calls for reform. To assess the economic consequences of plan changes it is important to have reliable statistical models of employee retirement behavior. The authors estimate a structural model of teacher retirement using administrative panel data. A Stock-Wise option value model provides a good fit to the data and predicts well out-of-sample on the effects of pension enhancements during the 1990s. The structural model is used to simulate the effect of alternatives to the current defined benefit plan.
Citation: Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky (2015). How Teachers Respond to Pension System Incentives: New Estimates and Policy Applications. CALDER Working Paper No. 147
CALDER Policy Brief No. 1-1115-1
This CALDER Explainer reviews the issue of teacher pensions. We provide background information and cover research on rising pension costs, how the pension structure influences the teaching workforce, and teacher preferences over retirement benefits
Citation: Cory Koedel, Michael Podgursky (2015). CALDER Explainers: Paying Attention to Teacher Pensions. CALDER Policy Brief No. 1