Understanding Personnel Decisions in Public Schools
Saturday, November 14, 2015: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Jasmine (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Mimi Engel, Vanderbilt University
Panel Chairs: Katharine O. Strunk, University of Southern California
Discussants: Peter Goff, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Katharine O. Strunk, University of Southern California
Evidence suggests that teacher hiring in public schools is ad hoc and often fails to result in good selection among applicants. Further, we know surprisingly little about how staffing decisions – human capital management – are made in U.S. public schools. The proposed panel brings together four papers from researchers across the country studying personnel issues in public schools from a wide range of perspectives.
In the first paper, Engel, Cannata, and Curran leverage all seven waves of the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) to examine trends in who the primary decision makers are in teacher hiring over time. Initial results suggest an increase in principal and teacher influence over teacher hiring since 1987-88. For example, the percentage of principals who reported having a major influence over teacher hiring has risen consistently from 47% in 1987 to 85% in 2003. The paper explores variation in trends toward decentralized teacher hiring across contexts (e.g., urbanicity, union status) and considers equity implications of decentralization.
Two of the four papers explore evidence based staffing in public schools. Cohen-Vogel and Fierro use surveys of all high school principals in Florida and Texas to explore principal reports of whether they use value-added scores for teacher hiring and assignment decisions. Preliminarily, results suggest that most high school principals in both states use teacher value-added scores both in teacher hiring and when assigning teachers to grade levels and subjects. In the third paper, Goldhaber, Grout, and Huntington-Klein evaluate whether applicant selection tools used by the Spokane Public Schools predict outcomes including teachers’ value-added, absences, and attrition. They find that the screening instruments predict teacher value added in student achievement and teacher attrition, but not teacher absences.
The fourth paper in the proposed session also explores teacher labor market outcomes. Grissom tests whether the race/ethnicity and gender of a school’s principal predicts the characteristics of teachers hired and retained in the school. Unlike prior work demonstrating empirical connections between principal and teacher race/ethnicity and gender and teacher labor market outcomes in cross-sectional data, Grissom uses longitudinal state administrative records to estimate the effects of school leader demographics derived from observing teacher hiring and retention in the same school under leaders with different characteristics over time. Preliminary results show that principal gender and especially race/ethnicity are important predictors of teacher labor market outcomes.
Professor Katharine Strunk, University of Southern California, will serve as session chair, and Assistant professor Peter Goff, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Strunk will serve as discussants. Our chair and discussant bring additional expertise in teacher labor markets and human resources to this varied panel. The presenters on the four papers represent four different institutions and the full, gender diverse, slate of authors and participants includes doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, and a full range of faculty rank. The proposed session brings together researchers from multiple institutions and disciplines using a wide range of data sources and methodological approaches to provide new evidence on how personnel decisions are made in U.S. public schools.