The Impact of Tennessee's Teacher Evaluation System on Teacher Transfer and Exit Decisions
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Using rich statewide administrative data, we find that though lower rated teachers tend to exit their school or the profession at substantially higher rates than those who are rated more effective, teachers who cross a rating threshold to become rated “above expectation” (the rating associated with tenure decisions) are slightly but significantly more likely to leave their school, particularly if they are situated in a school with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. We also find important differences in transfer and exit patterns based on whether teachers teach tested subject areas and their level of teaching experience.
Notably, teachers of untested subjects, for whom the school level achievement measure accounts for a large portion of their overall rating, exhibit the largest effect of being rated above or significantly above expectation. Untested teachers who cross the threshold for higher ratings are roughly 10 percent more likely to leave a high poverty school for another school within their district. Results are generally robust to alternative bandwidths.
The results of this study suggest that it should not be presumed that the introduction of more rigorous evaluation systems that result in labeling teachers as effective or ineffective will improve the overall quality or equity of the distribution of the teacher labor force. Policymakers should pay particular attention to the potential for labels and the consequences to create incentives for more effective teachers to exit more challenging, high need schools.