Type of Document Dissertation Author Feng, Li URN etd-08092006-173032 Title Combating Teacher Shortages:Who Leaves, Who Moves, and Why Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Economics, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Tim R. Sass Committee Chair David A. Macpherson Committee Member Douglas N. Harris Committee Member Stefan C. Norrbin Committee Member Keywords
- Teacher Labor Market
- Education Policy
- Teacher Mobility
- Teacher Attrition
Date of Defense 2006-08-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractIncreases in the school-age population, maximum class size requirements in various states and the No Child Left Behind Act’s mandate of a “highly qualified teacher” in every classroom collectively will increase the demand for teachers. However, public school teachers are exiting the profession in large numbers. This poses a serious challenge for policymakers.
It is unlikely that enhanced recruiting efforts alone will be sufficient to meet the increasing demand. Schools will have to find ways to avoid the loss of teachers to other professions (teacher attrition) and to other schools/districts (teacher migration). Teacher turnover, the combination of attrition and migration, is especially high for new teachers (Hanushek, Kain and Rivikin (2004)), Ingersoll (2001)) and the problems of hiring and retaining teachers are particularly acute for schools serving primarily low-income and minority students.
There are three self-contained chapters in this dissertation. In the first essay (Chapter 2) I analyze the determinants of teacher attrition using matched teacher-student class-level information for all Florida public school teachers in a single year. In addition to teacher demographics and school characteristics employed in previous studies, I include a number of variables measuring the characteristics of the specific students assigned to each teacher. The results indicate that classroom characteristics, such as students’ performance on standardized tests, percent of black students at classroom level, play a larger role than school-average student characteristics in determining teacher attrition. These findings suggest that in addition to salary, classroom assignment is an important factor when considering policies to promote teacher retention and teacher quality.
The second essay (Chapter 3) combines data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) survey with the Common Core of Data to study the reasons why new teachers leave teaching and change schools. The longitudinal nature of B&B allows analysis of the movement of individual teachers over time. The median survival time at the first school is about five years. Ten years after starting their first teaching job, only 36 percent of teachers are still teaching in their original school. Estimates from a competing risk model indicate that salary has a significant influence on leavers while increases in the concentration of minority and poor students are associated with moving. A policy simulation indicates that targeted salary increases coupled with improvements in working conditions would substantially reduce teacher migration and attrition.
In the final essay (Chapter 4), I focus on the problem of retaining young teachers. I analyze both the determinants of teacher mobility between schools and the factors affecting attrition from the teaching profession. Unlike most previous studies of teachers’ employment decisions, I simultaneously model the determinants of intra-district movement, inter-district movement, and departure from the teaching profession.
For leavers, teachers’ own salaries are important in the decision to exit teaching. Relative salaries, both measured by average salaries in other school districts and average salaries in alternative occupations where teachers have been traditionally moved to, are important in the decision to exit teaching and to undertake inter-district moves. However, as expected, district-level salaries in other districts do not affect intra-district moves.
In terms of school-level characteristics, increases in the percentage of black students in a school are associated with a higher probability of exiting teaching and increased probabilities of both intra- and inter-district moves. For intra-district moves, the school-level and district-level mean math score are both associated with a lower likelihood of movement. For both intra and inter-district moves, minority teachers are less responsive to the increase in the percentage of students of their own race than their Anglo counterparts.
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