Panel: Assessing the Effects of the Great Recession on the Teacher Labor Market

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Aztec (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington
Panel Chairs:  Andrew McEachin, North Carolina State University
Discussants:  Tim Sass, Georgia State University and Douglas Lauen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Impact of Layoff Threat on Teacher Mobility
Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington and Katharine O. Strunk, University of Southern California

The Impact of Employment Policies on Teacher Labor Markets
Nathan Barrett1, Sarah Crittenden-Fuller2 and Ludmilla Janda2, (1)Tulane University, (2)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

In most locations the Great Recession resulted in significant reductions in the resources allocated to public K-12 education, leading states and school districts to adopt a number of strategies to reduce costs. Public school expenditures are driven primarily by spending on educators so it is no surprise that many cost-cutting strategies heavily impacted teachers in terms of, for instance, job security and compensation. The consequences of these recessionary measures for the teacher labor market are still unknown, although there is concern that recession-induced policies have made teaching in public schools a less attractive option for current and potential teachers, and could have had unintended indirect effects on the labor market. For instance, the mere threat of layoffs or potential loss of future compensation may cause teachers to leave the profession altogether. The studies included in this panel are among the first to empirically examine the impacts of various recession-induced policies on teacher mobility. Importantly, given what is now known about the impact of individual teachers on student achievement, these studies go beyond looking at the effects of different types of cost-saving measures on teachers generically to focus on the consequences of real and simulated recession-induced policy shifts on teachers with different labor market opportunities or of varying effectiveness. The first two studies (Goldhaber & Strunk and Barrett & Crittenden-Fuller) confirm that there is cause for concern: the threat of layoff negatively impacts teachersí likelihood of remaining in their district and the teaching force, and the removal of teacher tenure protections and compensation tied to Masterís degrees is not only associated with increased teacher attrition, but specifically for more effective teachers and teachers who serve high-risk students. Building on these studies, the next two papers explore how states and districts might mitigate the negative consequences of policies that reduce teachersí job protections for student outcomes. Kraft shows both the causal impact of layoffs on student achievement and that achievement is harmed to a greater extent when more effective (as opposed to more senior) teachers are laid off, and provides evidence that an effectiveness-based layoff policy is better for students than a seniority-based layoff policy. In the panelís last study, Hansen examines the inevitable increases in class size that accompany reductions in force. Using a simulation model with longitudinal data from a single state, Hansen explores whether selectively inflating highly effective teachersí class sizes while limiting additional students to weaker teachersí classes can improve net student outcomes compared to the more common practice of equally distributing class sizes. Taken together, these four papers provide important information for policymakers to consider as they continue to face reduced education expenditures. They show that, although teacher-related cost-saving policies negatively impact teacher attrition and student achievement, states and districts can implement policies that reduce the degree to which students are harmed by these strategies.
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