|The Special Education Teacher Pipeline in Washington State: A Comprehensive Analysis of Preservice Predictors of Special Education Teacher Career Paths and Effectiveness
|American Institutes for Research (AIR)
|Systems, Policy, and Finance [Program Details]
|4 years (7/1/2017-6/30/2021)
Co-Principal Investigator: Dan Goldhaber
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate relations between preservice teacher education experiences, special education teacher workforce entry and retention, and student education outcomes. An emerging literature suggests that preservice teacher experiences—specifically student teaching, coursework, and the match between student teaching experiences and early-career experiences—can have important implications for teachers' career paths and effectiveness. Despite increased attention to these experiences and the shortage and attrition of special education teachers, there has been limited large-scale empirical investigation of the preservice teacher factors that are associated with teacher workforce entry and retention for special education teachers specifically. The current study aims to address these gaps by examining relations between preservice teacher education experiences (i.e., student teaching, coursework, and the match between student teaching experiences and early-career experiences) and outcomes for special education teacher candidates (i.e., workforce entry and retention) and the academic achievement of students with disabilities that they serve. The anticipated results of this study are expected to provide useful information to teacher education programs and highlight areas for potential intervention at the preservice level.
Project Activities: The research team will create a dataset that combines existing data on students, teachers, and teacher candidates in Washington State with new survey data collected from faculty in teacher education programs and school district special education directors in Washington State. The researchers will use this combined dataset to investigate relations between the preservice experiences of special education teacher candidates and their later workforce outcomes and academic outcomes of the students with disabilities.
Products: The products of this project will include preliminary evidence of an association between a key set of malleable factors related to preservice teacher preparation and the probability of workforce entry and retention and student academic outcomes, as well as peer-reviewed publications and presentations.
Setting: The current study will utilize a longitudinal dataset from Washington State that includes data from preservice teacher candidates while they are in their training programs and as they enter their K-12 teaching positions. This data collection is an ongoing effort as part of the Teacher Education Learning Collaborative (TELC), a partnership with approximately 15 teacher education programs in Washington State designed to explore the effects of preservice teacher education experiences on in-service teacher and student outcomes. The primary data collection with teacher education faculty and special education directors will take place in Washington State.
Sample: The extant data set will include data from approximately 3,000 special education teacher candidates who graduated from participating teacher education programs between 2005 and 2018 and were followed into their K-12 teaching positions. Additional data will also be collected from special education faculty and school district special education directors to gather additional information about a subsample of teacher candidates who graduated from participating teacher education programs in 2017-2018. The sample for this primary data collection will include one special education faculty member per participating teacher education program and special education directors from school districts in which the specified teacher candidates either completed their student teaching or are employed.
Intervention: Due to the nature of this research, there is no intervention.
Research Design and Methods: This project will combine secondary data on students, teachers, and teacher candidates in Washington State with new survey data collected from special education faculty in teacher education programs and school district special education directors. The researchers will use this combined dataset to address the following three research questions: (1) Which preservice teacher experiences (i.e., student teaching, coursework, and the match between student teaching experiences and early-career experiences) are related to the timing and probability of workforce entry for special education teacher candidates? (2) Which preservice teacher experiences are related to the test performance of students with disabilities in the classrooms of special education teacher candidates who enter the workforce? (3) Which preservice teacher experiences are related to the retention of special education teacher candidates who enter the state's public teaching workforce? Student teaching experiences will include the characteristics of the candidate's student teaching school (e.g., location, student demographics, turnover rates) and the supervising teacher (e.g., credentials, experience). Coursework will include the number of courses taken by the candidates in different content areas as well as their performance in these courses. The match between student teaching and early career experiences will be assessed by the degree of similarity between the student demographics of a candidate's student teaching school and early-career teaching school. In addition, they will also assess the match in terms of the alignment between the instructional strategies taught in the candidates' teacher education programs, the strategies supported in their student teaching placements, and the strategies used in their early-career teaching positions. To gather this data, the research team will survey special education faculty in participating teacher education programs and directors of special education programs in school districts where candidates who graduated in the 2017-2018 school year either completed their student teaching or obtained their first job. In addition to examining relations between preservice teacher education experiences and workforce entry, retention, and student outcomes, the research team will investigate whether teacher performance at the end of their teacher preparation programs are potential mediators of these relations.
Control Condition: Due to the nature of this research, there is no control condition.
Key Measures: Three preservice teacher experiences are included as variables in the secondary dataset—characteristics of the teacher candidate's student teaching school and supervising teacher, coursework taken by teacher candidates, and the match between a teacher candidate's teacher education experiences, student teaching experiences, and early-career teaching experiences. The match will also be assessed using researcher-designed surveys to collect information about instructional strategies used in school districts and whether they align with strategies teachers learn in their teacher education program. Outcome measures will be drawn from secondary data and include the probability and timing of public teaching workforce entry, the performance of students with disabilities in teacher candidates' classrooms (i.e., standardized test scores in reading, math, and science for elementary school students and end-of-course exams in math and science for high school students), and the probability of attrition from the state's teaching workforce. The following will also be examined as intermediate teacher candidate outcomes and potential mediators: performance on the Washington Educator Skills Test-Endorsements (a content-knowledge test required for receiving a teaching credential) and on the edTPA (a portfolio-based credential test administered during student teaching).
Data Analytic Strategy: To address the first research question, the researchers will estimate split population models that simultaneously consider the probability and timing of workforce entry as a function of preservice teacher experiences, controlling for other observable teacher candidate characteristics (e.g., credential test scores). For the second research question, the researchers will estimate value-added models that examine relations between preservice teacher experiences and student test performance, controlling for student characteristics (e.g., prior test scores). For the third research question, the researchers will estimate duration models to examine relations between the malleable factors and the probability of attrition, controlling for teacher characteristics (e.g., experience). Researchers will also examine teacher performance on a content knowledge credential test and a portfolio-based credential test as both intermediate outcomes and as potential mediators of the above relations.