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Educator labor markets
With a goal of contextualizing teacher job dissatisfaction during the first full school year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we contrast teachers’ experiences to the decade and a half leading up to the pandemic. We draw on nationally representative data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and National Teacher and Principal Survey from the 2003-04 to 2020-21 school years. Through descriptive and regression analysis, we show that (1) teacher dissatisfaction has gradually been increasing over time, but did not decrease sharply in the 2020-21 school year, (2) levels of dissatisfaction during the pandemic were not equal across subpopulations of teachers or over time, and (3) positive working conditions consistently predicted lower job dissatisfaction, including in the 2020-21 school year.
Research shows that teachers seek out jobs close to home, but previous studies have been unable to test whether proximity to home is related to retention in the teaching profession. We leverage a unique dataset from Teach For America (TFA) linking individuals’ preferred teaching locations, actual teaching locations, and years in teaching for 7 years after entering the profession. By controlling for a detailed set of background, preference, and teaching assignment variables through a matched fixed effects design, we find that individuals who were assigned to a TFA region in their home state taught, on average, for .15 years longer than those who were not assigned to teach in their home state. This effect is strongest for teachers of color and those from a low-income background. Being assigned to teach in one’s home state is associated with .36 more years in teaching for those from low-income backgrounds and .47 more years in teaching for teachers of color. Both sub-groups are approximately 8 percentage points more likely to stay in teaching for 7 or more years if assigned to their home state. Overall, this study provides evidence of a positive home state effect on teacher retention. Our results lend support for policies and programs that recruit from or nudge teachers toward teaching in their home states, particularly through alternative certification pathways, and as a means to increase teacher diversity.
Amid heightened concerns of teacher shortages, we document the role of principals in shaping teachers’ labor market decisions. Using teacher transfer applications from a large urban school district, we find that teachers are most likely to seek transfer away from schools with less-experienced principals and weaker leadership. The qualities of principals that attract applicants are survey reports of strong leadership, applicant-principal demographic congruence, and especially having worked with the principal previously. Ultimately, schools with high rates of teacher transfer seeking and exit receive few applications per teacher vacancy. These schools are likely to have shallow applicant pools and may need district support with recruitment in the short term, with the longer-term goal of developing leaders who retain teachers.
Teacher turnover is a perennial concern that became more salient during the COVID-19 pandemic as teacher-reported intentions to leave teaching escalated. The extent to which these teacher reports may translate into actual turnover remains an open question—especially given the pandemic context. Using unique survey data from teachers in 35 districts in Michigan linked to statewide administrative data, we examine the extent to which teacher-reported intentions are predictive of actually leaving. We measure behavior one, two, and three years following reported intent. We find intent is a significant predictor of turnover and becomes increasingly predictive over time. We also find organizational commitment and school organizational conditions are important factors in teachers’ intent and, to a lesser degree, actual turnover behavior.
Stagnating teacher salaries and the widening gap between public school teachers and similar workers have led to growing concerns that teachers will seek out additional employment—possibly impacting their instructional practice in the process. Using data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and the National Teacher and Principal Survey from 1994–2021, we show that teacher multiple jobholding has been remarkably stable over time. When examining the predictors of multiple jobholding, we find a high degree of variation across the timing, focus, and setting of teachers’ additional work. Using regression analysis, we show that teachers who work an additional job have lower turnover rates, with the exception of teachers who work outside of school, who leave teaching at higher rates.
The US teaching force remains disproportionately white while the student body grows more diverse. It is therefore important to understand how and under what conditions white teachers learn racial competency. This study applies a mixed-methods approach to investigate the hypothesis that Black peers improve white teachers’ effectiveness when teaching Black students. The quantitative portion of this study relies on longitudinal data from North Carolina to show that having a Black same-grade peer significantly improves the achievement and reduces the suspension rates of white teachers’ Black students. These effects are persistent over time and largest for novice teachers. Qualitative evidence from open-ended interviews of North Carolina public school teachers reaffirms these findings. Broadly, our findings suggest that the positive impact of Black teachers’ ability to successfully teach Black students is not limited to their direct interaction with Black students but is augmented by spillover effects on early-career white teachers, likely through peer learning.
Panel or grouped data are often used to allow for unobserved individual heterogeneity in econometric models via fixed effects. In this paper, we discuss identification of a panel data model in which the unobserved heterogeneity both enters additively and interacts with treatment variables. We present identification and estimation methods for parameters of interest in this model under both strict and weak exogeneity assumptions. The key identification insight is that other periods' treatment variables are instruments for the unobserved fixed effects. We apply our proposed estimator to matched student-teacher data used to estimate value-added models of teacher quality. We show that the common assumption that the return to unobserved teacher quality is the same for all students is rejected by the data. We also present evidence that No Child Left Behind-era school accountability increased the effectiveness of teacher quality for lower performing students.
Heightened concerns about the health of the teaching profession highlight the importance of studying the early teacher pipeline. This exploratory, descriptive paper examines preservice teachers' (PST) expressed motivation for pursuing a teaching career and its relationship with PST characteristics and outcomes. Using data from one of the largest teacher education programs in Texas, we use a natural language processing algorithm to categorize into topical groups roughly 2,800 essay responses to the prompt, "Explain why you decided to become a teacher.'' We identify 11 topics that largely reflect altruistic and intrinsic (though not extrinsic) reasons for teaching. The frequency of motivation topics varied substantially by PST gender, race/ethnicity, and certification area. While topics collectively explained little of the variance in PST outcomes, we found preliminary evidence that intrinsic enjoyment of teaching and prior experiences with adversity predicted higher performance during clinical teaching and lower attrition as a full-time K–12 teacher.
Non-teaching staff comprise over half of all school employees and their turnover may be consequential for school operation, culture, and student success, yet we lack evidence documenting their attrition. We use 11 years of administrative data from Oregon to examine mobility and exit among teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and other staff. Although teachers dominate staff turnover conversations, they are consistently the most stable employee group. Some school factors, like the proportion of students being disciplined, predict higher turnover rates for all employees, but within-school turnover between staff groups is weakly correlated and some school context variables are differentially associated with the turnover of various employee groups. Results suggest that employee turnover in schools is not a homogenous phenomenon across staffing groups.
The debate on the stringency of licensure exams for prospective public school teachers is on-going, including the recent controversial roll-out of the educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). We leverage the quasi-experimental setting of different adoption timing by states and analyze multiple data sources containing a national sample of prospective teachers and students of new teachers in the US. With extensive controls of concurrent policies, we find that the edTPA reduced prospective teachers in undergraduate programs, less-selective and minority-concentrated universities. Contrary to the policy intention, we do not find evidence that edTPA increased student test scores.