National Analyses of Teacher Force Development, Deployment, and Retention
Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University
Richard Ingersoll, University of Pennsylvania
Drawing on data from national databases such as the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), these analyses examined questions concerning the qualifications and quality of the teacher force, the conditions associated with developing and retaining a high quality teacher force, and the consequences of teacher qualifications in schooling and teaching practice. Analyses concentrated on the following topics (1) how teacher qualifications across states are related to student achievement patterns, in light of state policy; (2) teacher turnover, teacher shortage, and the organization of schools; and (3) inequalities in the distribution of teachers across fields and subjects. Additional work in this project addressed patterns in out-of-field teaching.
Main Research Questions
- What are trends in the characteristics, qualifications, and type of preparation of veteran and newly hired teachers nationally, by state, and by type of district (by urbanicity, student SES, and per pupil expenditures)? Are teachers becoming better prepared? Are well-qualified teachers available to all types of students? Are high-need teachers (teachers of color and those in high-demand fields) being recruited in sufficient numbers? Do trends vary by state and/or type of district and school? Can these trends be linked to state and district policy variables, such as preparation requirements, salary levels, recruitment incentives?
- How are teaching conditions and teacher qualifications distributed across schools, students, and courses? How are more and less-qualified teachers distributed by field, level, sector, and locale?
- What factorsincluding teacher characteristics and workplace variablesinfluence teachers' commitment, sense of efficacy, and plans to remain in the profession?
- Who is leaving teaching and why?
- Are there discernible influences of such policies as beginning teacher induction programs, incentive pay schemes, school restructuring practices, or availability of professional development on teachers' qualifications, views of teaching, or retention patterns?
Regression analysis of data from NCES' Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS)
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A Different Approach to Solving the Teacher Shortage Problem
Policy Brief 3, authored by Richard Ingersoll, January 2001.
Is There Really a Teacher Shortage?
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, September 2003.Description:
In this report, Richard Ingersoll builds on his hypothesis that school staffing problems are due largely to excess demand resulting from high pre-retirement turnover and not solely or even primarily to supply-side deficits in the quantity of teachers produced. He also addresses criticisms of those who argue that concern over teacher turnover is exaggerated.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational thought holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate school performance is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. It is widely believed that schools are plagued by shortages of teachers, primarily due to recent increases in teacher retirements and student enrollments. This report summarizes a series of analyses that have investigated the possibility that there are other factors—tied to the organizational characteristics and conditions of schools—that are behind school staffing problems. The data utilized in this investigation are from the Schools and Staffing Survey and its supplement, the Teacher Followup Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. These data indicate that school staffing problems are not primarily due to teacher shortages, in the sense of an insufficient supply of qualified teachers. Rather, the data indicate that school staffing problems are primarily due to a "revolving door"—where large numbers of qualified teachers depart their jobs for reasons other than retirement. The data show that the amount of turnover accounted for by retirement is relatively minor when compared to that associated with other factors, such as teacher job dissatisfaction and teachers pursuing other jobs. This report concludes that teacher recruitment programs—traditionally dominant in the policy realm—will not solve the staffing problems of such schools if they do not also address the organizational sources of low teacher retention.
The Organization of Schools as an Overlooked Source of Underqualified Teaching
Policy Brief 7, December 2002.
Out-of-Field Teaching and the Limits of Teacher Policy
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, September 2003.Description:
In this report, Richard Ingersoll focuses on trends over the past decade in the level of underqualified teachers in schools and why recent reforms have failed to adequately address this problem.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
The failure to ensure that the nation's classrooms are all staffed with qualified teachers is one of the most important problems in contemporary American education. Over the past decade, many panels, commissions, and studies have focused attention on this problem and, in turn, numerous reforms have been initiated to upgrade the quality and quantity of the teaching force. This report focuses on the problem of underqualified teachers in the core academic fields at the 7-12th grade level. Using data from the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, this analysis examined how many classes are not staffed by minimally qualified teachers, and to what extent these levels have changed in recent years. The data show that while almost all teachers hold at least basic qualifications, there are high levels of out-of-field teaching—teachers assigned to teach subjects that do not match their training or education. Moreover, the data show that out-of-field teaching has gotten slightly worse in recent years, despite a plethora of reforms targeted to improving teacher quality. The report discusses possible reasons for the failure of these reform efforts. My thesis is that, despite the unprecedented interest in and awareness of this problem, there remains little understanding of a key issue—the reasons for the prevalence of underqualified teaching in American schools—resulting thus far in a failure of teacher policy and reform. I conclude by drawing out the lessons and implications of these failures for the prospects of the No Child Left Behind Act to successfully address the problem of underqualified teachers in classrooms in the coming years.
Out-of-Field Teaching, Educational Inquality, and the Organization of Schools: An Exploratory Analysis
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, January 2002.Description:
This research report examines the practice of out-of-field teaching as a possible source of underqualified teaching in U.S. schools.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational theory holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate student achievement, especially in disadvantaged schools, is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. Deficits in the quantity of teachers produced and in the quality of preparation prospective teachers receive have long been singled out as primary explanations for underqualified teaching. In this study, I hypothesize that the manner in which schools are organized and in which teachers are utilized can account for as much of the problem of underqualified teaching as do inadequacies in teacher training or the supply of teachers. This analysis specifically focuses on a little recognized source of underqualified teaching the problem of out-of-field teaching—teachers being assigned by school administrators to teach subjects that do not match their training or education. I use data from the Schools and Staffing Survey—a large, comprehensive, nationally representative survey of teachers conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The results show that while most teachers, even in disadvantaged schools, hold basic qualifications, a significant proportion of these qualified teachers, especially in disadvantaged schools, are assigned to teach classes out of their fields. Data also show that out-of-field teaching is not primarily due to school hiring difficulties resulting from teacher shortages. In contrast, the analysis shows that a number of aspects of the administration and organization of schools are significantly related to out-of-field teaching. For example, school district regulations concerning minimal education requirements for new hires, the quality of principal leadership, the strategies schools use to cope with teacher recruitment and hiring, and average school class sizes all have an independent association with the extent of out-of-field teaching in schools, after controlling for other factors.
State Teaching Policies and Student Achievement
Policy Brief 2, December 1999.
Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence
A Research Report by Linda Darling-Hammond, December 1999.Description:
This Research Report examines the ways in which teacher qualifications and other school inputs are related to student achievement across states and suggests that policies adopted by states regarding teacher education, licensing, hiring, and professional development may make important differences in the qualifications and capacities teachers bring to their work.Abstract:PDFBriefAbstractOriginal Study
Using data from a 50-state survey of policies, state case study analyses, the 1993-94 Schools and Staffing Surveys (SASS), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), this study examines the ways in which teacher qualifications and other school inputs are related to student achievement across states. The findings of both the qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that policy investments in the quality of teachers may be related to improvements in student performance. Quantitative analyses indicate that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics, both before and after controlling for student poverty and language status. State policy surveys and case study data are used to evaluate policies that influence the overall level of teacher qualifications within and across states. This analysis suggests that policies adopted by states regarding teacher education, licensing, hiring, and professional development may make an important difference in the qualifications and capacities that teachers bring to their work. The implications for state efforts to enhance quality and equity in public education are discussed.
Teacher Turnover, Teacher Shortages, and the Organization of Schools
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, January 2001.Description:
This Research Report provides data and a new framework for looking at the teacher shortage problem. The author shifts the focus away from the problem's two most common explanations (teacher retirement and student enrollment growth) to examine from a sociological view how certain organizational characteristics and conditions of schools lead to low teacher retention. The analysis suggests that education policies, such as teacher recruitment programs, will not solve the staffing problems of schools if they do not also address what is going on in schools that cause teachers to leave. A Policy Brief based on this report is also available.Abstract:PDFBriefAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational theory holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate school performance is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. Contemporary theory also holds that these staffing problems are primarily due to shortages of teachers, which, in turn, are primarily due to recent increases in teacher retirements and student enrollments. This analysis investigates the possibility that there are other factors that might have an impact on teacher turnover levels, and, in turn, the staffing problems of schools, factors rooted in the organizational characteristics and conditions of schools. The data utilized in this investigation are from the Schools and Staffing Survey and its supplement, the Teacher Followup Survey, a large, comprehensive, nationally representative survey of teachers and schools conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The results of this analysis show that, net of teacher effects, there are significant effects of school characteristics and organizational conditions on teacher turnover which have largely been overlooked by previous research. For example, the data show that while high-poverty public schools have moderately higher rates, contrary to conventional wisdom, neither larger schools, nor public schools in large school districts, nor urban public schools have especially high rates of teacher turnover. In contrast, small private schools stand out for their high rates of turnover. Moreover, the data show, again contrary to popular wisdom, that the amount of turnover accounted for by retirement is relatively minor, especially when compared to that resulting from two related causes—teacher job dissatisfaction and teachers pursuing other jobs. The data show that, in particular, low salaries, inadequate support from the school administration, student discipline problems, and limited faculty input into school decision-making all contribute to higher rates of turnover, after controlling for the characteristics of both teachers and schools. The results of this investigation suggest that school staffing problems are neither synonymous with, nor primarily due to, teacher shortages in the conventional sense of a deficit in the supply of teachers. Rather, this study suggests that school staffing problems are primarily due to excess demand resulting from a "revolving door"—where large numbers of teachers depart their jobs for reasons other than retirement. This study also suggests that popular education initiatives, such as teacher recruitment programs, will not solve the staffing problems of such schools if they do not also address the organizational sources of low teacher retention.