Distribution of teachers and students across schools by teacher and student characteristics
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Tequesta (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Lindsay Fox, Stanford University
Panel Chairs: Allison Atteberry, University of Virginia
Discussants: Helen Ladd, Duke University and Tim Sass, Georgia State University
Researchers have documented the importance of teachers for student outcomes, but questions remain about the extent to which all students have access to high-quality teachers. This panel includes four papers that address questions related to teacher preferences, teacher labor markets, and state and district policies that affect the distribution of teachers within school systems. A number of studies have documented that teachers are more likely to leave schools with high proportions of traditionally underserved populations (Haunshek et al., 2004; Boyd et al., 2005). The first two papers in the panel probe this finding in two different ways. The first paper uses data on teacher applications-to-transfer to rank elementary schools in New York City. While the association between the rankings and school characteristics generally affirms previous research, there is variation in the rankings that is unexplained by school demographics and working conditions. In other words, there are a number of schools that look less attractive based on observable characteristics, but teachers nonetheless rank these schools highly. The second paper looks at what happens to teacher mobility when schools can differentially compensate teachers based on their effectiveness. Most districts are constrained by salary schedules, but recent reforms in New Orleans have created a less constrained teacher labor market which is the setting for this study. The authors find a small positive relationship between compensation and effectiveness, but it is not enough to offset preferences over non-pecuniary benefits. However, teachers are distributed more equitably after the reform.
The third and fourth papers in the panel look at how two different state initiatives affect the distribution of teachers and students. The third paper uses data from the Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee, a part of the state’s school turnaround initiative, to investigate teacher mobility patterns. The authors look at the extent to which a variety of teacher quality measures relate to entering, exiting, and remaining in schools in this district. They find that schools run by Charter Management Organizations hired teachers new to the state whereas ASD direct-run schools hired more experienced teachers. Overall, ASD schools gained higher value-added teachers than they lost after the takeover. The last paper looks at the impact of a state takeover of district schools in Louisiana where nearly all of the schools in New Orleans were turned into open-access schools in 2005. The researchers investigate whether student-level Dissimilarity and Isolation indices by race and socioeconomic status (SES) differ in pre- and post-Katrina periods. Similarly, the researchers compare Dissimilarity and Isolation indices for the distribution of teachers based on value-added scores. For students, they find higher SES segregation and lower racial segregation after the storm. All four papers in this panel contribute to the literature on how teacher preferences, labor markets, and the design of school systems affects how equitably teachers are distributed. The panel provides evidence from different geographic settings as well as different school system contexts. The findings inform policy discussions around school reforms, teacher compensation, hiring practices, and choice systems.