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Educator labor markets

Joshua Bleiberg, Eric Brunner, Erica Harbatkin, Matthew A. Kraft, Matthew G. Springer.

Federal incentives and requirements under the Obama administration spurred states to adopt major reforms to their teacher evaluation systems. We examine the effects of these reforms on student achievement and attainment at a national scale by exploiting their staggered implementation across states. We find precisely estimated null effects, on average, that rule out impacts as small as 0.017 standard deviations for achievement and 1.2 percentage points for high school graduation and college enrollment. We highlight five factors that likely limited the efficacy of teacher evaluation at scale: political opposition, decentralization, capacity constraints, limited generalizability, and the absence of compensating wages.

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Andrew Kwok, Iliana De La Cruz, Michelle Kwok.

Field supervisors are central to clinical teaching, but little is known about how their feedback informs preservice teachers (PSTs) development. This sequential mixed methods study examines over 3,000 supervisor observation evaluations. We qualitatively code supervisor written feedback, which indicates 2 broad pedagogical categories and 9 separate skills. We then quantize these feedback codes to identify the variation in the presence of these codes across PST characteristics, and then use several modeling techniques to indicate that specific feedback codes are negatively associated with evaluation score. Managing student attention was most detrimental to scores in early observations whereas instructional feedback (e.g., lesson delivery) was prioritized later in clinical teaching. Findings inform teacher preparation policy on understanding PST development and improving supervisory feedback.

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Danielle Sanderson Edwards, Matthew A. Kraft.

“Grow Your Own” (GYO) programs have recently emerged as a promising approach to expand teacher supply, address localized teacher shortages, and diversify the profession. However, little is known about the scale and design of GYO programs, which recruit and support individuals from the local community to become teachers. We conduct a quantitative content analysis to describe 94 GYO initiatives. We find that GYO is used broadly as an umbrella term to describe teacher pipeline programs with very different purposes, participants, and program features. Our results suggest that misalignment between some GYOs’ purposes and program features may inhibit their effectiveness. Finally, we propose a new typology to facilitate more precise discussions of GYO programs.

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Lauren P. Bailes, Sarah Guthery.

This study examines the experience of demotion from a principalship to an assistant principalship and how race and gender can differentially impact career trajectories. Using administrative state dataset of 10,946 observations at the principal level, we used probit regression to determine the overall probability of demotion and Kaplan Meier survival analysis to estimate the differences in probability over time. Our analysis describes not only who experiences demotions, but includes the characteristics of the sending and receiving schools. Survival analysis illustrates how small differences over time in demotion by race resulted in statistically significant systemic differences. We also find that experience matters: for every additional year of experience in the principal role, the probability of experiencing demotion decreases by 0.34%.

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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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Brendan Bartanen, Aliza N. Husain, David D. Liebowitz.

School principals are viewed as critical actors to improve student outcomes, but there remain important methodological questions about how to measure principals’ effects. We propose a framework for measuring principals’ contributions to student outcomes and apply it empirically using data from Tennessee, New York City, and Oregon. As commonly implemented, value-added models misattribute to principals changes in student performance caused by unobserved time-varying factors over which principals exert minimal control, leading to biased estimates of individual principals’ effectiveness and an overstatement of the magnitude of principal effects. Based on our framework, which better accounts for bias from time-varying factors, we find that little of the variation in student test scores or attendance is explained by persistent effectiveness differences between principals. Across contexts, the estimated standard deviation of principal value-added is roughly 0.03 student-level standard deviations in math achievement and 0.01 standard deviations in reading.

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Melanie Rucinski.

Prior research has found that economic downturns have positive effects on new teacher quality, but has not been able to determine the extent to which this relationship arises from a supply response (increased quantity or positive selection of teaching candidates) vs. a demand response (selection in hiring enabled by falling demand). In this paper, I use longitudinal data on students and teachers in Massachusetts to describe the effects of higher unemployment rates on both supply and demand for teachers. I show that students who graduate from college when unemployment rates are higher are more likely to take a teacher certification test, and that this effect is stronger among students who were higher achieving while in high school. On the demand side of the market, higher unemployment reduces new teacher hiring and the overall number of teachers employed, but I find no evidence that schools differentially employ higher achieving teaching candidates during economic downturns. While I cannot definitively rule out changes in demand-side selection, I show that much of the positive relationship between unemployment rates and teacher quality can be explained by positively selected supply. My results suggest that economic incentives impact both the quantity and the quality of new teaching candidates, with implications for attracting and retaining high-quality teachers outside of economic downturns.

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Dorottya Demszky, Jing Liu, Heather C. Hill, Shyamoli Sanghi, Ariel Chung.

While recent studies have demonstrated the potential of automated feedback to enhance teacher instruction in virtual settings, its efficacy in traditional classrooms remains unexplored. In collaboration with TeachFX, we conducted a pre-registered randomized controlled trial involving 523 Utah mathematics and science teachers to assess the impact of automated feedback in K-12 classrooms. This feedback targeted “focusing questions” – questions that probe students’ thinking by pressing for explanations and reflection. Our findings indicate that automated feedback increased teachers’ use of focusing questions by 20%. However, there was no discernible effect on other teaching practices. Qualitative interviews revealed mixed engagement with the automated feedback: some teachers noticed and appreciated the reflective insights from the feedback, while others had no knowledge of it. Teachers also expressed skepticism about the accuracy of feedback, concerns about data security, and/or noted that time constraints prevented their engagement with the feedback. Our findings highlight avenues for future work, including integrating this feedback into existing professional development activities to maximize its effect.

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Zid Mancenido, Heather C. Hill, Jeannette Garcia Coppersmith, Hannah Carter, Cynthia Pollard, Chris Monschauer.

Practice-based teacher education has increasingly been adopted as an alternative to more traditional, conceptually-focused pedagogies, yet the field lacks causal evidence regarding the relative efficacy of these approaches. To address this issue, we randomly assigned 185 college students to one of three experimental conditions reflective of common conceptually-focused and practice-based teacher preparation pedagogies. We find significant and large positive effects of practice-based pedagogies on participants’ skills in eliciting and responding to student thinking as demonstrated through a written assessment and a short teaching episode. Our findings contribute to a developing evidence base that can assist policymakers and teacher educators in designing effective teacher preparation at scale.

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Kristen Shure, Zach Weingarten.

Decentralized matching markets experience high rates of instability due to information frictions. This paper explores the role of these frictions in one of the most unstable markets in the United States, the labor market for first-year school teachers. We develop and estimate a dynamic model of labor mobility that considers non-pecuniary information frictions directly. We find that teachers overestimate the value of hidden amenities and their own preferences for teaching. Improving access to information improves stability by 12% and reduces between-school switching by 18%, but reduces teacher labor supply by over 5%. Compared to each tested alternative, including targeted wage premiums at hard-to-staff schools, bonuses that incentivize retention, and lowered tenure requirements, information revelation improves match quality most.

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