Poster Paper: The Effects of Subgroup-Specific Accountability on Teacher Job Assignments, Turnover, and Attrition

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Matthew Shirrell, George Washington University

Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic gaps in student achievement are a significant source of concern for policymakers, researchers, and the general public. Despite a wide variety of policies designed to address these gaps (Harris, 2008), racial/ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps have remained large, and have perhaps even widened over time (Reardon, 2011; Reardon & Robinson, 2008).

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) took a novel approach to closing these achievement gaps, requiring schools to make yearly improvements not only in overall student achievement, but also in the achievement of students of various subgroups, including racial/ethnic minority subgroups and students from economically disadvantaged families. NCLB required that the students in each of these subgroups in each school make yearly gains in achievement; if a single subgroup failed to make the required gains, the entire school would be labeled as failing and subject to sanction. Although evidence is mixed on whether subgroup-specific accountability accomplished its goal of narrowing racial/ethnic and other achievement gaps (Lauen & Gaddis, 2012; Reardon, Greenberg, Kalogrides, Shores, & Valentino, 2013; Sims, 2013), subgroup-specific accountability has remained an important aspect of school accountability, as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mandates that states include in their accountability systems a measure of—and a means to close—racial/ethnic and socioeconomic gaps in student achievement (Schanzenbach, Bauer, & Mumford, 2016).

Despite the importance of subgroup-specific accountability, we know little about its impacts on teachers. Prior work from a single state, North Carolina, finds that the initial implementation of subgroup-specific accountability affected the job assignments and attrition of black, but not white, teachers, and altered the composition of black teachers’ classes (Shirrell, 2016). It is unclear, however, whether similar changes took place in other states.

This study uses nationally representative data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS), along with detailed data on the initial implementation of NCLB, to explore the effects of NCLB’s subgroup-specific accountability on teachers’ job assignments, turnover, and attrition. To identify the causal effects of the policy on teachers, the study takes advantage of the fact that NCLB did not hold all schools accountable for the performance of their student subgroups; instead, NCLB required each state to set a minimum subgroup size cutoff, which was the minimum number of students in a subgroup that were required for that subgroup’s performance to “count” in accountability determinations for a particular school. This study uses these cutoffs to implement a regression discontinuity (RD) design to examine whether holding schools accountable for various student subgroups during NCLB’s first two years affected teachers’ job assignments, turnover, and attrition. This study also examines the heterogeneity of these effects across teachers of various races, and explores one possible mechanism for these effects: teachers’ and principals’ job assignments, including their job responsibilities and hours devoted to various aspects of their work.