The best research about teachers

Teacher Recruitment

Despite recurring shortages of teachers in economically advanced countries, we still know very little about why people become teachers. One of the chapters in my PhD (unpublished) tries to tackle this question using Understanding Society data. I find that people with a personality type characterised by high levels of ‘openness to experience’ are much more likely to go into teaching than their peers.

Here are some of the best papers that I have read on teacher recruitment:

Dolton, P. J. (2006). Teacher supply. Handbook of the Economics of Education2, 1079-1161. (Link)

Bacolod, M. (2007). Who teaches and where they choose to teach: College graduates of the 1990s. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis29(3), 155-168. (Link)

Chevalier, A., Dolton, P., & McIntosh, S. (2007). Recruiting and retaining teachers in the UK: An analysis of graduate occupation choice from the 1960s to the 1990s. Economica74(293), 69-96. (Link)

Dee, T. S., & Goldhaber, D. (2017) Understanding and Addressing Teacher Shortages in the United States. The Hamilton Project. (Link)

Bueno, C., & Sass, T. (2016, October). The Effects of Differential Pay on Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Quality. In 2016 Fall Conference: The Role of Research in Making Government More Effective. (Link)


Teacher Training & Development

Many people will confidently tell you that we understand the features of effective professional development programmes for teachers. However, it is only in the last ten years have we begun to identify training programmes that actually help teachers get better at their jobs. The best research being done in this area is often published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness (here). Recently, Matthew Kraft and colleagues have summarised the literature on instructional coaching, for which the evidence is very promising. Among interventions in this category, the My Teaching Partner programme, developed at the University of Virginia, is perhaps the best evidenced.

Here are some of the best papers that I have read on teacher professional development:

Kraft, M.A. & Papay, J.P. (2014). Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), 476-500. (Link)

Papay, J. P., Taylor, E. S., Tyler, J. H., & Laski, M. (2016). Learning job skills from colleagues at work: Evidence from a field experiment using teacher performance data (No. w21986). National Bureau of Economic Research. (Link)

Kraft, M. A., Blazar, D., & Hogan, D. (2017). The Effect of Teacher Coaching on Instruction and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the Causal Evidence. (Link)

Allen, J. P., Pianta, R. C., Gregory, A., Mikami, A. Y. & Lun, J. (2011). An interaction-based approach to enhancing secondary school instruction and student achievement. Science, 333 (6045), 1034–1037. (Link)

Allen, J. P., Hafen, C. A., Gregory, A. C., Mikami, A. Y., & Pianta, R. (2015). Enhancing secondary school instruction and student achievement: Replication and extension of the My Teaching Partner-Secondary intervention. Journal of research on educational effectiveness8(4), 475-489. (Link)

Gregory, A., Ruzek, E., Hafen, C. A., Mikami, A. Y., Allen, J. P., & Pianta, R. C. (2017). My Teaching Partner-Secondary: A video-based coaching model. Theory into practice56(1), 38-45. (Link)


Teacher Effectiveness & Teacher Allocation

Teachers vary widely in their ability to instill learning in pupils. Indeed Eric Hanushek, one of the founding fathers of the economics of education, claims that: “no other attribute of schools comes close to having this much influence on student achievement.” It follows from this that the way teachers are allocated to pupils, via the market for teaching jobs, can have an important impact on who learns what. Becky Allen and I have a paper which looks at three proxies for teacher effectiveness, documenting socioeconomic gradients in access to good teachers in England. American researchers can calculate direct measures of teacher effectiveness and have come to the same conclusions.

Here are some of the best things I have read about teacher effectiveness and teacher allocation:

Jackson, C. K., Rockoff, J. E., & Staiger, D. O. (2014). Teacher effects and teacher-related policies. Annual Review of Economics6(1), 801-825. (Link)

Kane, T. J., McCaffrey, D. F., Miller, T., & Staiger, D. O. (2013). Have We Identified Effective Teachers? Validating Measures of Effective Teaching Using Random Assignment. Research Paper. MET Project. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Link)

Chetty, B. R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2014). Measuring the Impacts of Teachers I : Evaluating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates, 104(9), 2593–2632. (Link)

Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., & Rockoff, J. E. (2014). Measuring the impacts of teachers II: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood. American Economic Review104(9), 2633-79. (Link)

Papay, J. P., & Kraft, M. A. (2015). Productivity returns to experience in the teacher labor market: Methodological challenges and new evidence on long-term career improvement. Journal of Public Economics130, 105-119. (Link)

Mansfield, R. K. (2015). Teacher quality and student inequality. Journal of Labor Economics33(3), 751-788. (Link)

Glazerman, S., Protik, A., Teh, B. R., Bruch, J., & Max, J. (2013). Transfer Incentives for High-Performing Teachers: Final Results from a Multisite Randomized Experiment. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. (Link)

Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics72(2-3), 104-122. (Link)

Prost, C. (2013). Teacher mobility: can financial incentives help disadvantaged schools to retain their teachers?. Annals of Economics and Statistics 171-191. (Link)


Teacher Working Conditions & Collaboration

As well as formal professional development programmes, teachers learn through interacting with their peers and their environment. Poor working conditions in schools are also a major contributor to teachers leaving the profession. In the last ten years or so, researchers have begun to use survey data measuring teachers working environments, linked with administrative data on teacher retention and pupil exam results, to study this relationship. One of the chapters of my PhD thesis (unpublished) uses cross-section data on English schools to investigate how working conditions affect teacher job satisfaction and intentions to leave their school. I am currently trying to develop panel datasets on this in order to develop this programme of research. I also have a paper with John Jerrim and Laura Zieger comparing the quality of teacher working conditions across countries.

Here are some of the best things I have read on teacher working conditions:

Kraft, M.A. & Papay, J.P. (2014). Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), 476-500. (Link)

Kraft, M. A., Marinell, W. H., & Shen-Wei Yee, D. (2016). School organizational contexts, teacher turnover, and student achievement: Evidence from panel data. American Educational Research Journal, 53(5), 1411-1449. (Link)

Boyd, D., P. Grossman, M. Ing, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, & J. Wyckoff. (2011). The Influence of School Administrators on Teacher Retention Decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 303–333. (Link)

Ladd, H. F. (2011). Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Working Conditions: How Predictive of Planned and Actual Teacher Movement? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(2), 235–261. (Link)

Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S. O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. A. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal52(3), 475-514. (Link)

Sun, M., W. R. Penuel, K.A. Frank, H.A. Gallagher & Youngs, P. (2013). Shaping professional development to promote the diffusion of instructional expertise among teachers, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 35(3), 344–369. (Link)


Teacher Retention

Early-career teacher retention is declining in England. In the introduction to my PhD (unpublished) I have a section showing that if early-career retention had remained at 2009 levels, then we wouldn’t have a shortage of teachers in England. Broadly speaking, I think there are two explanations for declining retention: poor working conditions (see last section) and declining competitiveness of teacher salaries relative to other public and private sector workers.

Relative pay is particularly pertinent for those with STEM degrees, who generally have a higher outside earning potential. Almost everyone in education will tell you that teachers aren’t primarily motivated by money, so declining retention is not related to relative pay. In my view, this is an untenable position given the current research. In particular, two articles by Tim Sass and colleagues evaluating early-career salary supplement policies for shortage-subject teachers in the US have found large effects on improved retention. I wrote a paper for Gatsby showing that a similar policy starting in 2010 would have all but eliminated science and math teacher shortages in England.

Here are some of the best things I have read on the relationship between working conditions, pay and teacher retention:

Kraft, M. A., Marinell, W. H., & Shen-Wei Yee, D. (2016). School Organizational Contexts, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement: Evidence From Panel Data. American Educational Research Journal (Vol. 53). (Link)

Boyd, D., P. Grossman, M. Ing, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, & J. Wyckoff. (2011). The Influence of School Administrators on Teacher Retention Decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 303–333. (Link)

Simon, N. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2015). Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record117(3), 1-36. (Link)

Jacob, R., Goddard, R., Kim, M., Miller, R., & Goddard, Y. (2015). Exploring the Causal Impact of the McREL Balanced Leadership Program on Leadership, Principal Efficacy, Instructional Climate, Educator Turnover, and Student Achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37(3), 314–332. (Link)

Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2016). The Impact of Incentives to Recruit and Retain Teachers in “Hard‐to‐Staff” Subjects. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 37(1), 112-135. (Link)

Bueno, C. & Sass, T. (2016). The Effects of Differential Pay on Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Quality. (Link)

Donaldson, M. L., & Johnson, S. M. (2010). The price of misassignment: The role of teaching assignments in Teach for America teachers’ exit from low-income schools and the teaching profession. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(2), 299-323. (Link)

Clotfelter, C., Glennie, E., Ladd, H., & Vigdor, J. (2008). Would higher salaries keep teachers in high-poverty schools? Evidence from a policy intervention in North Carolina. Journal of Public Economics, 92 (5), 1352–1370. (Link)


Teacher Hiring

School leaders generally hire teachers based on their CV, an interview and, sometimes, a short observation of their teaching. Research suggests that none of these three things are reliable indicators of teacher quality. As teacher shortages grow, schools are increasingly recruiting teachers before they have even acquired qualified status. This raises fascinating questions about how to organise teacher training, certification and hiring processes, none of which we are anywhere near answering.

Here are some of the best things I have read about teacher hiring:

Jacob, B.A. & Lefgren, L. (2008). Can principals identify effective teachers? Evidence on subjective performance evaluation in education. Journal of Labor Economics, 26(1), 101-136. (Link)

Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2005). Using imperfect information to identify effective teachers. (Link)

Staiger, D. O., & Rockoff, J. E. (2010). Searching for effective teachers with imperfect information. Journal of Economic Perspectives24(3), 97-118. (Link)


Teacher Motivation

Psychologists have made quite a lot of headway in understanding what motivates humans at work, beyond money. The two leading approaches are Self Determination Theory (SDT) and the Job Demands Resource (JDR) Model. The two theories attempt to achieve subtly different things and recent research by Fernet and colleagues has begun to integrate them. This literature is also now beginning to join up with the literature on working conditions (see above).

Van den Broeck, A., Ferris, D. L., Chang, C. H., & Rosen, C. C. (2016). A review of self-determination theory’s basic psychological needs at work. Journal of Management42(5), 1195-1229. (Link)

Reeve, J., & Su, Y. L. (2014). Teacher Motivation. In: The Oxford Handbook of Work Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination Theory, 349. (Link)

Fernet, C., Trépanier, S. G., Austin, S., & Levesque-Côté, J. (2016). Committed, inspiring, and healthy teachers: How do school environment and motivational factors facilitate optimal functioning at career start?. Teaching and Teacher Education59, 481-491. (Link)

Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., & Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: a theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology95(5), 834. (Link)

Hakanen, J. J., Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and work engagement among teachers. Journal of School Psychology43(6), 495-513. (Link)

Fernet, C., Austin, S., Trépanier, S. G., & Dussault, M. (2013). How do job characteristics contribute to burnout? Exploring the distinct mediating roles of perceived autonomy, competence, and relatedness. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology22(2), 123-137. (Link)

 

 

Sam Sims Quantitative Education Research