Teacher Quality and Postsecondary Outcomes for Students With Disabilities
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
We attempt to address both of these gaps in the literature by using detailed, longitudinal administrative data on public school students in Washington State, which includes linked college and employment data. We first consider the distribution of teacher qualifications—experience, degree level, licensure test scores, and value added—across students with and without disabilities. We find that students with disabilities are disproportionately assigned to teachers with less teaching experience, lower degree levels, lower licensure test scores, and lower prior measures of value added than students without disabilities. This contributes to the growing literature documenting inequity in the distribution of teacher qualifications across districts, schools, and classrooms.
We then assess the relationship between these teacher characteristics and a number of outcomes for students with disabilities. Specifically, we consider high school outcomes, such as student test scores, the number of excused absences, progression between grades, and on-time graduation, as well as postsecondary outcomes, such as employment and college attendance. In each of our specifications, we control for baseline levels of student achievement and the observable characteristics of students with disabilities; we also estimate models that include school or district fixed-effects. That said, we view these results as descriptive because we cannot fully account for potential sources of bias; for example, students may be assigned to more experienced or qualified teachers along unobserved dimensions that may also impact their longer-term outcomes.
We find strong associations between prior measures of teacher value added and the performance of students with disabilities on standardized tests, but no consistent associations between value added (or other teacher qualifications) and absences, grade progression, on-time graduation, college enrollment, or labor market participation of students with disabilities. This suggests that further research is needed to identify the specific characteristics and qualifications of public school teachers that are predictive of these important outcomes for students with disabilities.