Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The Impact of within and Between School Mobility on Instructional Quality and Growth

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 2:05 PM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Peter Goff, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Gwendolyn S. Baxley, University of Wisconsin - Madison
With escalating accountability pressures, schools have begun to make data-driven decisions to create more equitable schools (Coldren & Spillane, 2007; Kaufman, Graham, Piccianno, Popham, Wiley, 2004; Love, 2008; Marsh, Pane, Hamilton, 2006), particularly through strategic teacher assignment practices (Cohen-Vogel, 2011). School leaders increasingly use student test scores to strategically reassign ineffective teachers to non-tested grades or subjects, while promoting their more effective peers to high-stake areas (Chingos & West, 2011; Cohen-Vogel, 2011; Cohen-Vogel & Harrison, 2013; Master, 2014; Grissom, Kalogrides, & Loeb, 2013; Donaldson, 2011). Contrary to well-intentioned efforts, this mobility may potentially disrupt the instructional quality and growth of both the reassigned individual and the collective instructional quality of the school (Elfers, 2006), specifically if the reassignments are out-of-field placements that do not match teachers’ prior content or grade-level knowledge (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010)

In this study, we examine in-field and out-of-field reassignments within and across schools and its impact on teacher instructional quality. To do so, we draw upon a unique, disaggregated dataset from the Baltimore Public School District that provides teacher, school and classroom-level data from 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Administrative data provides information regarding school demographics as well as information on teacher demographics, teaching experience, teacher certifications, leadership experience, teaching assignments (subject and grade-level taught), and degree attainment levels for teachers. We link this data to our measure of teachers’ instructional quality: a unique 48-item student survey, assessing teachers on their ability to cultivate classroom culture, effectively deliver instruction, classroom management, and student engagment. First, we descriptively compare the instructional quality of mobile teachers to their peers. Next, we examined the extent to which instructional quality in 2012-2013 related to strategic staffing assignments in 2013-2014, as has been suggested by Atteberry (2013) and Grissom, Kalogrides, and Loeb (2013). Lastly, we model changes in teachers’ instructional practices as a function of changes in various teacher assignment strategies -- concentrating specifically on school, grade, and subject area assignments.

Preliminary finding indicate that mobile teachers are instructionally different than their non-mobile peers, particularly in their ability to engage students and manage the classroom. In-field and out-of-field switches across grades may be particularly disruptive to teachers’ instructional quality. Findings from this study may better inform policymakers, researchers and practitioners about the benefits and consequences of teacher assignment practices. Overall, findings from this study contribute new insights on the disruptive nature of principal, teacher and student mobility and its impact on developing high-quality educational environments for all students.