Panel Paper: Do Better Student Teaching Placements Lead to Better Employment Outcomes? Evidence from a Random Assignment Experiment

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 17 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Dan Goldhaber1,2, Matthew Ronfeldt3, James Cowan2, Emanuele Bardelli3, Joy Johnson3, Matthew Truwit3 and Hannah Mullman3, (1)University of Washington, (2)American Institutes for Research, (3)University of Michigan

The student teaching experience, where teacher candidates work in classrooms under the supervision of mentor teachers, is typically the capstone of teacher preparation. It is also one of the first sustained opportunities for teacher candidates to try out teaching and create professional relationships with other educators. Consequently, it has an important role in candidates’ job market outcomes. Using data from Washington state, Krieg et al. (2016) have found that about 40% of teacher candidates take positions in the same district in which they completed their student teaching internship. This student teaching to employment transition is significantly more common than candidates taking positions in either their hometown district or the district that houses their preparation program. A separate literature has also documented that candidates with higher quality internships, as measured by observable characteristics and performance measures of placement schools and mentor teachers, are more effective educators (Goldhaber et al., 2018; Ronfeldt 2012, 2015; Ronfeldt et al., 2018).

But we know relatively little about whether better student teaching experiences lead to better employment outcomes. Motivated in part by the prior literature on the relationship between student teaching placements and in-service teaching effectiveness, a number of states are adopting new standards for mentor teachers in an attempt to change where student teaching occurs. Given that student teaching appears to play an important role in the job search process, these reforms may have consequences for the sorting of novice teachers to schools.

In this study, we use data from a random assignment experiment conducted with two educator preparation programs and approximately 500 teacher candidates to assess the relationship between the quality of student teaching placements and employment outcomes. During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, we ranked potential student teaching placement sites using a combination of teacher value-added, performance evaluations, and experience, and school value-added and staff turnover. We then created two lists of potential placement sites and randomly assigned candidates to more or less promising placement sites.

We consider two main research questions in this study: whether better placements increase overall employment outcomes and whether they affect the types of schools in which candidates find employment. We use two sources of data to assess these questions. First, using surveys about future work plans taken before and after the internship, we estimate the effect of assignment to a higher quality placement on reported employment plans or preferences for working in different types of schools. We then follow candidates into the workforce using data on public school employment during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years and estimate the effect of better placements on overall employment, as well as differences in demographic composition of the schools in which teachers work.