Panel Paper: Does Licensure Testing Affect the Composition of the Teaching Profession? Evidence from Washington's Professional Teacher Certification

Friday, November 9, 2018
Taft - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

James Cowan, American Institutes for Research and Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington

Most states require in-service teachers to earn a professional teacher license, and states are increasingly relying on assessments of teacher performance in the certification process. Although the individual assessments used in this process often predict teacher effectiveness, there is relatively little evidence on how certification requirements affect the composition of the teacher workforce. We study the introduction of a licensure testing requirement in 2010 for newly tenured teachers in Washington State. Teachers became eligible for the exam after earning tenure and were normally required to pass within five years. Using data on teacher value-added for cohorts of teachers earning tenure between 2007 and 2013, we study the effects of the certification requirement by comparing changes in the average teacher effectiveness of tenure cohorts between tenure and the examination deadline before and after the introduction of the policy. We find small and statistically insignificant average effects of the certification requirement on teacher effectiveness, but a reduction in the percentage of teachers earning professional certification and an increase in teacher effectiveness at the bottom of the value-added distribution. These results suggest that performance-based certification requirements may improve teacher effectiveness by increasing attrition among low-performing teachers.