Panel Paper: Improving Education Quality through the Teacher Hiring Process

Thursday, November 8, 2018
8206 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Katherine Key, Georgia State University

There are many possible avenues for improving teacher quality, including pre-service training, professional development, performance-based compensation, and selective retention. While most of these mechanisms have been studied extensively, until recently (Jacob et al., 2016; Bruno and Strunk, 2018; Goldhaber et al., 2017) there has been little attention paid to another potentially efficient means of raising teacher quality: improving the system for selecting and hiring teachers. In this paper, I investigate two important aspects of the hiring process. First, I determine the extent to which observable characteristics of applicants, including their performance on various screening tools, predict the performance of those who become classroom teachers. Second, in order to gauge whether principals select the best candidates, I estimate the factors that determine the applicants which principals select for interviews and, conditional on an interview occurring, what factors affect principals’ decisions to extend a job offer. To conduct the analyses, I utilize three years of rich applicant and hiring data from an urban school district. In addition to detailed background information on applicants, the district employs both a commercial screening tool and a video interview in the selection process, allowing for the analysis of a wide range of pre-service teacher characteristics. I will also incorporate a variety of teacher-performance metrics, including value-added, observations ratings, absenteeism, and longevity on the job.

This paper extends the recent literature by examining teacher selection and hiring decisions in a different geographic context where the hiring process exhibits a number of important differences from the systems that have been studied previously. First, the district I analyze employs a different set of screening tools than what are used in the districts recently analyzed by others (Jacob et al., 2016; Bruno and Strunk, 2018; Goldhaber et al., 2017). Second, unlike the process in Washington, DC studied by Jacob et al., teachers who fail any part of the process are removed from consideration and can only be hired after a petition is submitted. Third, contrary to the system in Los Angeles analyzed by Bruno and Strunk, information obtained through the initial screening process is provided to principals, allowing me to investigate the impact of commercial screener scores on principal decision making and hiring outcomes. Finally, I will have access to information on both rejections and acceptances of official interview and job offers, allowing me to better understand teacher and principal preferences.