Who Enters Teaching? Encouraging Evidence that the Status of Teaching is Improving
Issue/Topic: Teaching Quality--Recruitment and Retention
Author(s): Lankford, Hamilton; Loeb, Susanna; McEachin, Andrew; Miller, Luke C.; Wyckoff, James
Organization(s): University of Albany; Stanford University; North Carolina State University; University of Virginia
Publication: Educational Researcher
Published On: 11/1/2014
There are concerns that the documented declines in academic abilities of new public school teachers between the 1960s and 1990s and the relatively low status of the teaching profession both affect teaching quality and student achievement. Beginning in the 2000s, federal, state, and local policies have been implemented toward improving teacher quality, but New York State began implementing state reforms to strengthen teachers and recruit, train, and retain high-quality teachers in the late 1990s.
To determine if New York State's teacher improvement and recruitment policies, implemented beginning in the 1990s, affected the academic abilities of incoming teachers
- The academic ability of newly-certified or newly-hired first-time teachers in New York State declined from 1986-1999, but academic abilities for this same group improved substantially after 1999.
- Results suggest that while the academic abilities of individuals seeking first-time teacher certification has improved since 1999, there is a large and meaningful demand for more academically abled teachers. For example, while the academic ability, as measured by the SAT scores, of newly-certified first-time teachers increased from 1999 to 2010, the increases in academic ability for newly-hired first-time teachers during that same period were even higher.
- Because these academically able teachers are not all being recruited through alternative programs (like Teach for America), they are likely not leaving after only a few years in the classroom.
- These results suggest that the status of the teaching profession is increasing.
- Regional Changes: There were substantial improvements in the entire state, though improvements in New York City (NYC) teachers were larger and began earlier than in other areas of the state. Improvements in other school districts in the state were generally a "muted version of the transition that occurred in NYC."
- Grade and Subject: Improvements in academic ability between 1999 and 2010 were more pronounced for teachers entering hard-to-staff subjects (like math and science) than other areas. These patterns held across the state.
- School Poverty: The average SAT scores of newly-hired teachers improved for teachers in both wealthy and poor schools, but there were greater improvements in schools with a higher percentage of poor students. In addition, new teachers in the poorest 20 percent of schools had the highest gains in academic ability - by a substantial margin - between 1999 and 2010.
- Teacher Race and Ethnicity: Non-white, non-Asian newly hired teachers grew from 16 percent of the sample in 1999 to 24 percent in 2010, and the average SAT score of entering minority teachers increased 40 percent of a standard deviation from 1999 to 2010 (compared to a 26 percent increase among entering white and Asian teachers).
- A mix of federal, state, and local policies likely led to these improvements.
- Federal: Increased scrutiny on teacher quality through the "highly qualified teacher" provisions of No Child Left Behind
- State: Revised teacher licensure and preparation requirements
- Local: Hiring policies and practices
- The state's traditional teacher preparation programs played a key role in training and graduating more academically abled teachers, as well as providing classroom-based training for alternative licensure.
220,332 individuals granted their first New York state teaching certificate and 151,747 newly-hired, entry-level teachers in the state's public schools between 1985 and 2010
Year data is from:
Data Collection and Analysis:
Analysis of teacher data, including math and reading SAT scores and competitiveness of undergraduate institutions, for newly certified and newly employed teachers in New York state, benchmarked against all New York public high school students who took the SAT between 1979 and 2008
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