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IES Grant

Title: Applicants at the Doorstep: Improving Hiring Practices through a Better Understanding of the Link Between Applicant Information and Teacher Quality
Center: NCER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Goldhaber, Dan Awardee: University of Washington
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/2013-6/30/2015) Award Amount: $399,999
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H130030

Co-Principal Investigator: Angela Jones (Spokane Public Schools)

Partner: Spokane Public Schools

Education Issue: District hiring could be an important policy lever with the potential to significantly influence the effectiveness of the teaching workforce in improving student academic outcomes. However, the relation between applicant data and future teacher performance is not well understood. Specifically, empirical findings regarding the relation between teacher credentials (e.g., licensure, certification, graduating institution, degree/major) and later student outcomes are mixed and at times contradictory. Previous analyses, however, have focused on data integrated into the state longitudinal databases and have not included information about teacher applicants collected and recorded by some local school systems. Moreover, previous analyses have not included the observations of local hiring officials and these observations of prospective teacher characteristics might be important predictors of teacher effectiveness in the future.

Partnership Goal: Under the proposed project, the partnership of the University of Washington Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) and Spokane Public Schools (Spokane) will study how well the information collected during the teacher hiring process predicts future teacher performance, and whether alternative means of assessing teacher applicants to the district might lead to better hiring decisions.

The primary aims of the proposed partnership are to better understand the relation between applicant data and teacher performance; to determine where hiring processes succeed and fail to identify the best teacher applicants; and finally, to create a foundation from which to develop a future research grant proposal to develop and analyze the effectiveness of new applicant assessment tools.

Partners and Partnership Activities: CEDR is housed at the University of Washington and is directed by Dan Goldhaber (PI). Its mission is to conduct independent education research that provides policymakers and practitioners the scientific evidence necessary to make decisions that improve education outcomes. CEDR's research work generally addresses the following areas of education policy with the intent to facilitate evidence-based policy and practice: school and teacher effectiveness, education accountability and governance, and teacher labor markets. Empirical work at CEDR focuses on the analysis of longitudinal data that associates teachers with individual students. CEDR has currently partnered with 11 Washington State school districts through SDPI, including Spokane Public Schools.

SPS is the largest school district in eastern Washington, and the second largest in the state. The district consists of 34 elementary, 6 middle, and 5 high schools. The district employs 1,758 teachers who instruct 28,768 students. During the past 5 years, Spokane has hired 988 new teachers from a pool of 5,840 applicants. The proposed project will primarily involve the Employment Services Department of Spokane Human Resources. Employment Services, directed by Angela Jones (Co-PI), oversees the school district's recruitment, screening, and hiring processes, including the assessment of protocols used during the hiring process, and the training of administrators responsible for hiring. The Department is also responsible for the maintenance of the administrative datasets that will be used to conduct the proposed analyses.

The proposed study will build on an existing researcher-practitioner partnership, formed under CEDR's Strategic District Partnership Initiative. The partnership will be strengthened by increasing Spokane's capacity to approach educational interventions through data analysis, and by the framework that will be formed to guide the project. The partnership has assembled an Advisory Board of researcher and practitioner experts, and at several points will convene a meeting of Spokane stakeholders to discuss data, methods of analysis and interpretation of results, as well as to obtain feedback. The partnership will study the relation between information collected from teacher applicants and later teacher performance.

Setting: This study will be conducted onsite in Spokane and at the Center for Education Data and Research in Seattle.

Population/Sample: The project will use administrative data from local and state records on teacher applicants to Spokane (from SY 2007–08 through 2012–13) and their students.

Initial Analysis: The analysis will use data on teacher applicants combined with a combination of statewide longitudinal datasets from Washington State, including data on student and teacher performance. Combining these datasets will allow the inclusion of the performance of applicants who were not hired by Spokane but instead were hired by other school districts in the State.

These research aims will be addressed in four steps: (1) assessment of variation in applicant data collected; (2) assessment of variation in all variables among applicant subgroups defined by progress through the hiring process; (3) assessment of variation in independent variables among teachers of varying performance level; and (4) multivariate regression analysis of the link between applicant data teacher quality.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., and Huntington-Klein, N. (2016). Screen Twice, Cut Once: Assessing the Predictive Validity of Teacher Selection Tools. Education Finance and Policy, 12(2): 197–223.