Panel Paper: Networked Improvement Community Approach for Improving Equal Access to Effective Teachers: Effectiveness and Cost Implications

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Dusable (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Natalya Gnedko-Berry, Jesse Levin, Iliana Brodziak de los Reyes, Candace Hamilton Hester, Trisha Borman and David Manzeske, American Institutes for Research

Background The importance of teachers is undisputed, with research demonstrating that effective teachers are essential to students’ academic success (e.g., Chetty, Friedman, & Rockoff, 2014; Hanushek, 2010; Nye, Konstantopoulos, & Hedges, 2004). However, despite decades of reform, unequal access to effective teachers remains a challenge to student potential, especially for students from historically disadvantaged groups. Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) represent a promising approach to address persistent and complex problems in education including ensuring access to effective teachers

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Network to Transform Teaching (NT3) is an effort to increase student access to effective teachers via an established NIC including four states and two public school districts. The cornerstone of this NIC is improved student access to effective teachers, which it achieves by increasing the number of Board certified teachers, which have been shown to have a positive impact on student learning (Cantrell et al, 2008; Cowan & Goldhaber, 2015; Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2007; Manzeske et al, 2017). This study is the first to examine both the effectiveness and the costs associated with the efforts of NIC-structured sites that are focused on the recruitment and support of teachers pursuing Board certification.

Methods We examined the effectiveness of NIC by using a comparative interrupted time series approach (Bloom, 2003; Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002) to study the change in the number of educators pursuing Board certification in NT3 sites that comprise the NIC compared with a set of matched comparison sites. The study employed the “ingredients” approach (Levin & McEwan, 2001) to examine the cost of the staff and non-personnel resources associated with the recruitment and support of Board certification candidates at the NT3 sites.

Results Findings suggest that site participation in the NIC as part of NT3 was associated with a statistically significant increase in the number of educators pursuing Board certification by year two of implementation. This increase translates to 20% of new Board-certification candidates associated with NT3. Site spending on recruitment and support of Board-certified candidates in 2015-16 ranged from $429,000 to just over $1,934,000. Funding for site recruitment and support efforts came primarily from the Supporting Effective Educator Development grant, with additional support coming from state education departments, districts, and teacher unions. Sustaining these efforts requires increased compensation to teachers once they become Board-certified. Projections of these “induced” costs show that they far outweigh the operational costs incurred through efforts to recruit and support teacher candidates. Ten-year projections of the induced costs associated with the 2015-16 cohort of Board-certified teachers ranged from $857,000 to $20,786,000.

Significance This study produces preliminary evidence that NICs hold promise for addressing the persistent challenge of access to effective teachers on a large scale and in diverse contexts. The study also provides policymakers concrete information on the costs associated with NIC partner site efforts to recruit and support of teacher Board certification, including detail on the various specific strategies and resources used across the sites.