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Luke C. Miller

Luke C. Miller, James Soland, Daniel Lipscomb, Daniel W. Player, Rachel S. White.

Many dimensions of teacher working conditions influence both teacher and student outcomes; yet, analyses of schools’ overall working conditions are challenged by high correlations among the dimensions. Our study overcame this challenge by applying latent profile analysis of Virginia teachers’ perceptions of school leadership, instructional agency, professional growth opportunities, rigorous instruction, managing student behavior, family engagement, physical environment, and safety. We identified four classes of schools: Supportive (61%), Unsupportive (7%), Unstructured (22%), and Structured (11%). The patterns of these classes suggest schools may face tradeoffs between factors such as more teacher autonomy for less instructional rigor or discipline. Teacher satisfaction and their stated retention intentions were correlated with their school’s working conditions classes, and school contextual factors predicted class membership. By identifying formerly unseen profiles of teacher working conditions and considering the implications of being a teacher in each, decisionmakers can provide schools with targeted supports and investments.

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Beth E. Schueler, Luke C. Miller, Amy Reynolds.

Partisanship influenced learning modality after the pandemic’s onset, but it is unknown whether partisanship predicted other aspects of educational operations. We study the role of partisanship, race, markets, and public health in predicting a range of operations—from modality to family engagement to social-emotional support to teacher PD—throughout 2020-21 in the context of Virginia. Districts’ partisan makeup and racial composition were similarly predictive of in-person offerings throughout 2020-21 but partisanship was less predictive over time. District characteristics explained limited variation in other aspects of operations, though districts with larger private school sectors provided more supports. Results emphasize the role of partisanship, race, and markets in reopening but also suggest school operational decisions were less politicized than choice of modality. 

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Walter Herring, Daphna Bassok, Anita McGinty, Luke C. Miller, James H. Wyckoff.

Third grade is oftentimes the first year standardized literacy assessments are mandated. In turn many policies aimed at improving literacy have focused on third-grade test scores as a key indicator. Yet literacy struggles begin well before third grade, as do racial and socioeconomic disparities in children’s literacy skills. Kindergarten readiness assessments provide a unique opportunity to better understand the emergence of literacy disparities. We use unique kindergarten literacy data from nearly every school district in Virginia to document the relationship between children’s early literacy skills and their later reading proficiency. Comparing children with similar literacy skills at kindergarten entry, we find significant racial and socioeconomic differences in the likelihood a child is proficient on their third-grade reading assessment.

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Julie Cohen, Susanna Loeb, Luke C. Miller, James H. Wyckoff.

Ten years ago, the reform of teacher evaluation was touted as a mechanism to improve teacher effectiveness. In response, virtually every state redesigned its teacher evaluation system. Recently, a growing narrative suggests these reforms failed and should be abandoned. This response may be overly simplistic. We explore the variability of New York City principals’ implementation of policies intended to promote teaching effectiveness. Drawing on survey, interview, and administrative data, we analyze whether principals believe they can use teacher evaluation and tenure policies to improve teaching effectiveness, and how such perceptions influence policy implementation. We find that principals with greater perceived agency are more likely to strategically employ tenure and evaluation policies. Results have important implications for principal training and policy implementation.

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