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The clinical teaching experience is one of the most important components of teacher preparation. Prior observational research has found that more effective mentors and schools with better professional climates are associated with better preparation for teacher candidates. We test these findings using an experimental assignment of teacher candidates to placement sites in two states. Candidates who were randomly assigned to higher quality placement sites experienced larger improvements in performance over the course of the clinical experience, as evaluated by university instructors. The findings suggest that improving clinical placement procedures can improve the teaching quality of candidates.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Matt Ronfeldt, James Cowan, Trevor Gratz, Emanuele Bardelli, Matt Truwit, Hannah Mullman (2020). Room for Improvement? Mentor Teachers and the Evolution of Teacher Preservice Clinical Evaluations. CALDER Working Paper No. 239-0620
We use a novel database of student teaching placements in Washington State to investigate teachers’ transitions from student teaching classrooms to first job classrooms and the implications for student achievement. We find that first-year teachers are more effective when they are teaching in the same grade, in the same school level, or in a classroom with student demographics similar to their student teaching classroom. We also document that only 27% of first-year teachers are teaching the same grade they student taught, and that first-year teachers tend to begin their careers in higher-poverty classrooms than their student teaching placements. This suggests that better aligning student teacher placements with first-year teacher hiring could be a policy lever for improving early-career teacher effectiveness.
Citation: John Krieg, Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2020). Disconnected Development? The Importance of Specific Human Capital in the Transition from Student Teaching to the Classroom. CALDER Working Paper No. 236-0520
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 the following year and provides a signal of future teacher effectiveness beyond what is already captured by the state’s traditional licensure tests. Our findings add to a growing literature demonstrating that it is possible to collect information about the skills of prospective teachers during their teacher preparation experience that are predictive of the in-service outcomes of teachers.
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
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.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Natsumi Naito, Roddy Theobald (2019). Student Teaching and the Geography of Teacher Shortages. CALDER Working Paper No. 222-1019
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Recent evidence on teacher productivity suggests teachers meaningfully influence noncognitive student outcomes that are commonly overlooked by narrowly focusing on student test scores. These effects may show similar levels of variation across the teacher workforce and are not significantly correlated with value-added test score gains. Despite a large number of studies investigating the TFA effect on math and English achievement, little is known about nontested outcomes. Using administrative data from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we investigate the relationship between being in a TFA classroom and non-test student outcomes. We validate our use of nontest student outcomes to assess differences in teacher productivity using the quasi-experimental teacher switching methods of Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff (2014) and find multiple cases in which these tests reject the validity of candidate nontest outcomes. Among the cases deemed valid, we find suggestive evidence that students taught by TFA teachers in elementary and middle school were less likely to miss school due to unexcused absences and suspensions (compared to non-TFA teachers in the same school), although point estimates are very small. Other nontest outcomes were found to be valid but showed no evidence of a TFA effect.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Michael Hansen (2015). Teach For America Impact Estimates on Nontested Student Outcomes. CALDER Working Paper No. 146
Teach For America (TFA) is an alternative certification program that intensively recruits and selects recent college graduates and midcareer professionals to teach in schools serving high-need students. Prior rigorous evaluations of the program have generally found positive effects of TFA teachers on students’ learning in math and science and no significant differences in reading or language arts, compared with non-TFA teachers’ effects in the same schools. No priorstudies, however, have specifically focused on TFA effects in the Atlanta region.
This report examines the efficacy of TFA teachers in the Atlanta region spanning the 2005-06 through 2013-14 school years. Using longitudinal administrative data from three major school districts with significant numbers of recent TFA placements, we generate TFA effect estimates based on two series of Georgia’s standardized tests—the end-of-grade Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) and end-of-course tests (EOCTs).
We find evidence of a positive effect in student learning due to the hiring of TFA teachers in these three districts, compared with the performance of non-TFA colleagues in the same schools. Estimated TFA effects are positive and statistically significant in social studies and science on the state’s CRCTs, and in American literature on the state’s EOCTs. We find no significant differences in performance between TFA and non-TFA teachers in the other subjects we analyzed. Supplementary analyses show these results are not sensitive to the inclusion of data from a period of well-documented test score manipulation in Atlanta Public Schools.
Citation: Michael Hansen, Tim Sass (2015). Performance Estimates of Teach For America Teachers in Atlanta Metropolitan Area School Districts. CALDER Working Paper No. 145
We examine the extent to which clustering large numbers of Teach For America (TFA) corps members in a limited number of low-performing schools was accompanied by changes in teacher mobility decisions. Using longitudinal data from Miami-Dade spanning six school years, augmented with survey responses from TFA’s own Alumni Survey for cohorts placed in the Miami region, we use Cox proportional hazards models and multinomial logit decision models in a modified difference-in-difference (DD) framework. Our results suggest that the increased concentration of TFA corps members in schools was associated with a reduction in TFA mobility across schools after the first year of service, but it did not affect the overall retention of corps members in the district after the two-year commitment. In addition, we find evidence suggesting non-TFA teachers in schools with a relatively high proportion of TFA corps members were significantly more likely to leave the district. We also find that TFA corps members retained beyond the two-year commitment performed substantially better in mathematics during their first two years of teaching: evidence of positive selection into postcommitment retention. Finally, we produce steady-state estimates of the minimum TFA effects necessary for the district to prefer hiring a TFA corps member relative to a non-TFA hire. TFA corps members in the district exceed this minimum value in both reading and mathematics.
Citation: Michael Hansen, Benjamin Backes, Victoria Brady (2015). Teacher Attrition and Mobility During the Teach For America Clustering Strategy in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 139
A sizeable body of evidence has documented the effectiveness of Teach For America (TFA) corps members at raising the mathematics test scores of their students, though little is known about the program’s impact at the school level. TFA’s recent placement strategy in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in which large numbers of TFA corps members are placed as clusters into a targeted set of disadvantaged schools, provides an opportunity to evaluate the impact of the TFA program on broader school performance. This study examines whether the influx of TFA corps members led to a spillover effect on other teachers’ performance. We find that many of the schools chosen to participate in the cluster strategy experienced large subsequent gains in mathematics achievement. These gains were driven in part by the composition effect of having larger numbers of effective TFA corps members. However, we do not find any evidence that the clustering strategy led to any spillover effect on schoolwide performance. In other words, our estimates suggest that the extra student gains for TFA corps members under the clustering strategy would be equivalent to gains resulting from an alternate placement strategy in which corps members were evenly distributed across schools.
Revised August 31, 2015
Citation: Michael Hansen, Benjamin Backes, Victoria Brady, Zeyu Xu (2015). Examining Spillover Effects from Teach For America Corps Members in Miami- Dade County Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 113
This study uses detailed administrative data on teachers and students from the state of North Carolina to revisit the empirical evidence on master’s degrees, with attention to teachers at the middle and high school levels. It provides descriptive information on which types of teachers obtain master’s degrees, for which subjects, at which institutions, and during what phase of their career. The study estimates returns to master’s degrees using teacher fixed effects to control for time-invariant characteristics of teachers, thus separating the effects of teacher decisions to get an advanced degree from the effects of having one. Even with this careful attention to selection bias, we confirm the findings of prior studies showing that teachers with master’s degrees are no more effective than those without. The only consistently positive effect of attaining a master’s degree emerging from this study relates not to student test scores but rather to lower student absentee rates in middle school.
Citation: Helen Ladd, Lucy C. Sorensen (2015). Do Master’s Degrees Matter? Advanced Degrees, Career Paths, and the Effectiveness of Teachers. CALDER Working Paper No. 136
Most studies that have fueled alarm over the attrition and mobility rates of teachers have relied on proxy indicators of teacher quality, even though these proxies correlate only weakly with student performance. This paper examines the attrition and mobility of early-career teachers of varying quality using value-added measures of teacher performance. Unlike previous studies, this paper focuses on the variation in these effects across the effectiveness distribution. On average, more effective teachers tend to stay in their initial schools and in teaching. But the lowest performing teachers, who are generally the most likely to transfer between schools, appear to "churn" within the system, and teacher mobility appears significantly affected by student demographics and achievement levels.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Betheny Gross, Daniel Player (2014). Teacher Career Paths, Teacher Quality, and Persistence in the Classroom: Are Schools Keeping their Best?. CALDER Working Paper No. 29
We compare teacher preparation programs in Missouri based on the effectiveness of their graduates in the classroom. The differences in effectiveness between teachers from different preparation programs are very small. In fact, virtually all of the variation in teacher effectiveness comes from within-program differences between teachers. Prior research has overstated differences in teacher performance across preparation programs for several reasons, most notably because some sampling variability in the data has been incorrectly attributed to the preparation programs.
Citation: Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons, Michael Podgursky, Mark Ehlert (2012). Teacher Preparation Programs and Teacher Quality: Are There Real Differences Across Programs. CALDER Working Paper No. 79
With teacher quality repeatedly cited as the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement, there has been increased interest in examining the efficacy of teacher training programs. This paper presents research examining the variation between and impact that individual teacher training institutions in Washington state have on the effectiveness of teachers they train. Using administrative data linking teachers' initial endorsements to student achievement on state reading and math tests, we find the majority of teacher training programs produce teachers who are no more or less effective than teachers who trained out-of-state. However, we do find a number of cases where there are statistically significant differences between estimates of training program effects for teachers who were credentialed at various in-state programs. These findings are robust to a variety of different model specifications.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Stephanie Liddle (2012). The Gateway to the Profession: Assessing Teacher Preparation Programs Based on Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 65
Traditionally, states have required individuals complete a program of study in a university-based teacher preparation program in order to be licensed to teach. In recent years, however, various "alternative certification" programs have been developed and the number of teachers obtaining teaching certificates through routes other than completing a traditional teacher preparation program has skyrocketed. In this paper I use a rich longitudinal data base from Florida to compare the characteristics of alternatively certified teachers with their traditionally prepared colleagues. I then analyze the relative effectiveness of teachers who enter the profession through different pathways by estimating "value-added" models of student achievement. In general, alternatively certified teachers have stronger pre-service qualifications than do traditionally prepared teachers, with the least restrictive alternative attracting the most qualified perspective teachers. These differences are less pronounced when controlling for the grade level of teachers, however. On average, alternatively certified science teachers have also had much more coursework in science while in college than traditionally prepared science teachers. The same is not true for math teachers, where the hours of college coursework are approximately equal across pathways. Of the three alternative certification pathways studied, teachers who enter through the path requiring no coursework have substantially greater effects on student achievement than do either traditionally prepared teachers or alternative programs that require some formal coursework in education. These results suggest that the additional education coursework required in traditional teacher preparation programs either does little to boost the human capital of teachers or that whatever gains accrue from traditional teacher education training are offset by greater innate ability of individuals who enter teaching through routes requiring little formal training in education.
Teach for America (TFA) selects and places graduates from the most competitive colleges as teachers in the lowest-performing schools in the country. This paper is the first study that examines TFA effects in high school. We use rich longitudinal data from North Carolina and estimate TFA effects through cross-subject student and school fixed-effects models. We find that TFA teachers tend to have a positive effect on high school student test scores relative to non-TFA teachers, including those who are certified in-field. Such effects exceed the impact of additional years of experience and are particularly strong in math and science.
Citation: Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, Colin Taylor (2009). Making a Difference?: The Effects of Teach for America in High School. CALDER Working Paper No. 17