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Teacher labor markets
Teacher attrition has attracted considerable attention as federal, state and local policies- intended to improve student outcomes, increasingly focus on recruiting and retaining more qualified and effective teachers. But policy makers are often frustrated by the seemingly high rates of attrition among teachers earlier on in their careers. This paper analyzes attrition patterns among teachers in New York City elementary and middle schools and explores whether teachers who transfer among schools, or leave teaching entirely, are more or less effective than those who remain. Findings show first-year teachers who are less effective in improving student math scores have higher attrition rates than do more effective teachers. This raises important questions about current retention and transfer policies.
Citation: Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff (2009). Who Leaves? Teacher Attrition and Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 23
Since the 1996/97 school year, North Carolina has awarded bonuses of up to $1,500 to teachers in schools that exhibit test score gains above certain thresholds. This article reviews the details of the bonus program, describes patterns of differences between schools that qualify for bonuses of differing amounts, and presents basic data to address the question of whether the bonus program has improved student achievement, or has led to a narrowing of racial or socioeconomic achievement gaps. There is some evidence to suggest an improvement in overall test scores, particularly in math, but less evidence to suggest that achievement gaps have narrowed.
This paper is the first to systematically document the relationship between individual teacher performance incentives and student achievement using United States data. We combine data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey with original survey data regarding the use of teacher incentives. We find that test scores are higher in schools offering individual financial incentives for good performance. Moreover, the relationship between the presence of merit pay and student test scores is strongest in schools that may have the least parental oversight. The association between teacher incentives and student performance could be due to better schools adopting teacher incentives or to teacher incentives eliciting more effort from teachers.
Citation: David Figlio, Lawrence Kenny (2007). Individual Teacher Incentives And Student Performance. CALDER Working Paper No. 8
Defined Benefit pension plans often generate odd time patterns of benefits. One typical pattern exhibits low accrual in early years, accelerating in mid-late years, followed by dramatic decline, or even negative returns in years that are relatively young for retirement. We consider four states for specific analysis: Arkansas, Missouri, California and Massachusetts. There are interesting variations among these states' formulas, which affect the incentive to retire early. We identify key factors in the defined benefit formulas that drive such patterns and likely consequences for employee behavior. We examine the efficiency and equity consequences of these systems and lessons that might be drawn for pension reform.
Citation: Robert Costrell, Michael Podgursky (2007). Efficiency and Equity in the Time Pattern of Teacher Pension Benefits. CALDER Working Paper No. 6
This paper examines late career mobility and retirement decisions for a cohort of mid-career Missouri public school teachers. The rate of accrual of traditional defined benefit pension systems is highly nonlinear and back-loaded with most of the gain occurring in the final years prior to retirement. Also, these pension systems have rules that introduce kinks or discontinuities in the rate of accrual after 30 years. This paper explores the effect of these pension rules on retirement patterns. Missouri permits teachers to continue teaching part-time while collecting benefits. Teachers can also retire from one pension system and begin teaching in another. The paper examines both types of behavior.
Citation: Michael Podgursky, Mark Ehlert (2007). Teacher Pensions and Retirement Behavior: How Teacher Pension Rules Affect Behavior, Mobility, and Retirement. CALDER Working Paper No. 5
The central question for this study is how the quality of the teachers and principals in high poverty schools in North Carolina compares to that in the schools serving more advantaged students. A related question is why these differences emerge. The consistency of the patterns across many measures of qualifications for both teachers and principals leaves no doubt that students in the high poverty schools are served by school personnel with lower qualifications than those in the lower poverty schools. Moreover, in many cases the differences are large. Additional evidence documents that the differences largely reflect predictable outcomes of the labor market for teachers and principals.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Jacob Vigdor, Justin Wheeler (2007). High Poverty Schools and the Distribution of Teachers and Principals. CALDER Working Paper No. 1