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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

Teacher Workforce

May 2019


What does the research say about the relationship between teacher talent management practices and teacher recruitment and retention?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports, descriptive studies and policy briefs on the relationship between teacher talent management practices and teacher recruitment and retention. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Behrstock, E. (2010). Talent management in the private and education sectors: A literature review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Although teacher recruitment and retention have been policy concerns for many years, the strategic alignment of educator talent management initiatives has only recently begun to gain momentum. The adoption of a more comprehensive and strategic approach to securing a sufficient number of effective teachers is evidenced by the creation of human capital or talent management directorship positions and initiatives in many large U.S. school districts. Talent management directors oversee the various policies and practices that aim to attract top talent to the district. Smaller districts also are concerned with creating the appropriate mix of incentives to maintain a strong teaching force for their students. The education field is not alone in striving to develop a workforce that can effectively deliver quality service to clients. For years, other sectors, particularly in private industry, have competed for the top talent and, arguably, have been more successful than the education sector at attracting the smartest, most motivated, and most effective college graduates. This literature review examines effective talent management practices in education and other sectors, with an emphasis on strategies to attract and retain members of Generation Y (i.e., those born roughly between 1977 and 1995).”

Bhatt, M. P., & Behrstock, E. (2010). Managing educator talent: Promising practices and lessons from Midwestern states. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This policy analysis explains the need for a system approach to educator talent management. The report analyzes how state policies in the Midwest support the development of effective teachers and leaders throughout their career. The report focuses on state policies in teacher preparation including certification and licensure, recruitment and hiring, induction and mentoring, professional development, compensation and other financial incentives, working conditions, and performance management. This analysis posits that the creation of a systemic approach to educator talent management falls under the purview of states and must be developed by state leadership across agencies and sectors. It offers five recommendations for policymakers to move toward a more systemic educator talent management system. These recommendations are: (1) Assess the status quo of your educator quality policies; (2) Create a cross-organizational team to develop a unified vision and strategic plan for educator quality in your state; (3) Identify all stakeholder groups and partners and specify the level of engagement for each group at every stage of the policy development process; (4) Focus on the development of school leaders as well as teachers; and (5) Ensure that all initiatives to improve educator quality will be assessed on how well they meet the intended goal.”

Campbell, C., & DeArmond, M. (2011). State education agencies overlooked in education reform? Talent is the first place to start (2011 PIE Network Summit Policy Briefs). Minneapolis, MN: Policy Innovators in Education Network. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “State education agencies have been tasked with an immense productivity challenge—increasing student outcomes on fewer funds for the unforeseeable future. The federal government has expected more from states over the last few decades in improving district and school performance: however, there were minimal gains even when states had more money. The most recent federal effort to jump start state level reforms, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top (RTTT) competition, raised the stakes for states to take an active role in a host of reforms, including higher common standards, new data and assessment systems, teacher and leader workforce reforms, and improving the lowest performing schools. Following the lead of the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ before it, RTTT calls on states to be actively involved in overseeing and promoting district and school performance. The obvious question is, are state education agencies (SEAs) up to the task? This paper discusses four district strategies that can inform an SEA Talent Management Strategy. These are: (1) Assign talent management to a cabinet-level position; (2) Differentiate strategy from transaction; (3) Redesign policies to support flexibility and performance; and (4) Change the culture to focus on performance.”

Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at American Institutes for Research. (2014). Talent development framework for 21st century educators: Moving toward state policy alignment and coherence. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

From the introduction: “The Talent Development Framework can help your state chart a path away from piecemeal policies and toward proactive policy development that is grounded in your state’s unique needs and context. Developed by the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center), the framework is a free resource offering a comprehensive, step-by-step process to: 1. Inventory your state’s educator talent development strengths and needs in three key policy areas—attracting; preparing; and developing, supporting, and retaining teachers and leaders. 2. Prioritize policy areas based on state context. 3. Analyze the depth of implementation of existing policies so they align educator quality policy efforts and create consistent expectations, accountability, and supports for educators. 4. Identify the next steps for the state that take into account timing, perceived need, and prioritization.”

DeArmond, M., Gross, B., Bowen, M., Demeritt, A., & Lake, R. (2012). Managing talent for school coherence: Learning from charter management organizations. Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing Public Education. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The current wave of new teacher evaluation systems around the country offers an opportunity to broaden the conversation surrounding teacher effectiveness and its relationship to school coherence, to look at how schools and school systems might take a more integrated and intentional approach to attracting, training, and managing high-quality teachers. Charter management organizations (CMOs) are an important but overlooked source of ideas for thinking about how to build talent management systems that get the right teachers into the right schools and create coherent work environments that develop and support teacher performance. This report examines how CMOs manage teacher talent: How do CMOs recruit and hire teachers? How do they develop teachers? And how do they manage teacher performance? CRPE researchers analyzed data from a larger study of CMOs conducted jointly by Mathematica Policy Research and CRPE. That study offered a rich array of data on how CMOs manage teachers, including in-depth case study data and survey data from CMO central offices and principals. CMOs in the study were found to manage talent in three main ways: by recruiting and hiring for fit, providing intensive and ongoing socialization on the job, and aligning pay and career advancement opportunities with organizational goals. The study raises several key points for how districts might think about managing teacher talent to support organizational coherence.”

Gonzalez, A., Kumar, S., & Waymack, N. (2014). Teacher quality roadmap: Improving policies and practices in Pittsburgh Public Schools. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The Pittsburgh Public Schools study is the 12th district study since the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) began studying districts in-depth in 2009. The intent of these studies is to give select communities a comprehensive look at what is happening in their local school districts that may be either helping or hurting teacher quality, and to increase the community’s understanding of policies and practices that too often are understood only by insiders. This report is an analysis framed around the following five standards supported by research and best practices: (1) Staffing; (2) Evaluation; (3) Talent Management; (4) Compensation; and (5) Professional Culture. Several recommendations are made for each standard, making it clear which authority is in a position to implement the recommendation; that is, Pittsburgh Public Schools through executive action or an action of the school board, Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, or the state. The following are appended: (1) Data Dashboard; (2) Description of Key Standards in the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review; and (3) Pittsburgh Control Variables for Value-Added Measure.”

Grissom, J. A., Rubin, M., Neumerski, C. M., Cannata, M., Drake, T. A., Goldring, E., et al. (2017). Central office supports for data-driven talent management decisions: Evidence from the implementation of new systems for measuring teacher effectiveness. Educational Researcher, 46(1), 21–32. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “School districts increasingly push school leaders to utilize multiple measures of teacher effectiveness, such as observation ratings or value-added scores, in making talent management decisions, including teacher hiring, assignment, support, and retention, but we know little about the local conditions that promote or impede these processes. We investigate the barriers to principals’ use of teacher effectiveness measures in eight urban districts and charter management organizations that are investing in new systems for collecting such measures and making them available to school leaders and the supports central offices are building to help principals overcome those barriers. Interviews with more than 175 central and school leaders identify barriers in three main areas related to accessing measures, analyzing them, and taking action based on their analysis. Supports fall into four categories: professional development, connecting principals to sources of expertise, creating new structures or tools, and building a data use culture. Survey analysis suggests that indeed principals in high support systems perceive lower barriers to data use and report greater incorporation of teacher effectiveness measures into their talent management decisions.”

Grissom, J. A., & Bartanen, B. (2019). Strategic retention: Principal effectiveness and teacher turnover in multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems. American Educational Research Journal, 56(2), 514–555. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Studies link principal effectiveness to lower average rates of teacher turnover. However, principals need not target retention efforts equally to all teachers. Instead, strong principals may seek to strategically influence the composition of their school’s teaching force by retaining high performers and not retaining lower performers. We investigate such strategic retention behaviors with longitudinal data from Tennessee. Using multiple measures of teacher and principal effectiveness, we document that indeed more effective principals see lower rates of teacher turnover, on average. Moreover, this lower turnover is concentrated among high-performing teachers. In contrast, turnover rates of the lowest-performing teachers, as measured by classroom observation scores, increase substantially under higher-rated principals. This pattern is more apparent in advantaged schools and schools with stable leadership.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Hitt, D. H., & Meyers, C. V. (2017). Prioritizing talent in turnaround: Recommendations for identifying, hiring, and supporting principals and teachers in low-performing schools. San Francisco, CA: Center on School Turnaround at WestEd. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Identifying and maintaining talent is important in any organization, but in a low-performing school, it is perhaps ‘the’ most important component to achieving turnaround. Given the importance of teachers and leaders for students and schools, districts and states are wise to hone their efforts related to identifying, attracting, retaining, and sustaining capable and committed talent. The University of Virginia Partnership for Leaders in Education (UVA/PLE) works with school systems to establish the conditions for change and to build transformative leadership capacity to achieve improved systems and schools for students. Given the importance of hiring and retaining high-quality principals and teachers in turnaround schools, this report provides lessons learned by UVA/PLE about strategic talent development in a turnaround environment. Specifically, this report conveys what UVA/PLE researchers and field team members have learned from a project examining how districts prioritizing their lowest-performing schools attract and recruit high-potential candidates for principalships and teaching positions. The report also describes what was learned from the project in terms of districts’ strategic and innovative approaches for identifying the fit between an applicant and a school, and for supporting talent in the long term. Along with illustrative stories of promising practices from schools and districts engaged in strategic talent development, recommendations are provided based on the project’s findings regarding concrete steps and actions districts and states can take to support innovative and effective talent development in low-performing schools.”

Kraft, M. A., & Gilmour, A. F. (2017). Revisiting “The Widget Effect”: Teacher evaluation reforms and the distribution of teacher effectiveness. Educational Researcher, 46(5), 234–249. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “In 2009, the New Teacher Project’s ‘The Widget Effect’ documented the failure of U.S. public school districts to recognize and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. We revisit these findings by compiling teacher performance ratings across 24 states that adopted major reforms to their teacher evaluation systems. In the vast majority of these states, the percentage of teachers rated unsatisfactory remains less than 1%. However, the full distributions of ratings vary widely across states, with 0.7% to 28.7% rated below proficient and 6% to 62% rated above proficient. We present original survey data from an urban district illustrating that evaluators perceive more than 3 times as many teachers in their schools to be below proficient than they rate as such. Interviews with principals reveal several potential explanations for these patterns.”

Makkonen, R., Tejwani, J., & Venkateswaran, N. (2016). How are teacher evaluation data used in five Arizona districts? (REL 2016-142). Washington, DC: Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Education Laboratory West. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Recent teacher evaluation reforms instituted across the country have sought to yield richer information about educators’ strengths and limitations and guide decisions about targeted opportunities for professional growth. This study describes how results from new multiple-measure teacher evaluations were being used in 2014/15 in five school districts in Arizona (according to interviews with district leaders and instructional coaches and surveys of school principals and teachers), with each district administering its own local evaluation system developed to align with the overarching state evaluation regulations passed in 2011. Findings from a majority of the study districts indicated that online data platforms are facilitating observation-based feedback, with evaluation results reportedly influencing subsequent professional development for teachers—in particular shaping the work of instructional coaches and/or the support opportunities that are suggested for teachers within the district’s online system. However, responding teachers in the five study districts expressed some skepticism about the relevance of school- and district-level professional development offerings, and viewed themselves as responsible for their own professional growth activities. In addition, respondents indicated that the timing of the release of standardized state test data renders those data less useful for professional development decisions than observation results. Meanwhile, teacher evaluation data are reportedly being less systematically used in talent management decisions, including to identify teacher leaders or to assign teachers to schools or classrooms. Regarding evaluation’s impact, principals and teachers in a majority of study districts agreed that their new teacher evaluations have improved teachers’ instructional practice, but teachers in all five study districts were less likely than principals to agree that evaluations have benefited students. Together, these findings are suggestive of positive benefits from organizational structures that support the review of data during the school year, such as standards-based observation frameworks, benchmark assessments, professional learning communities, and instructional coaching and feedback. However, skepticism among teachers (particularly high school teachers) suggests that they may not yet perceive their evaluations as entirely credible and relevant to their work.”

Minnici, A. (2013). Creating a coherent and comprehensive approach to managing educator talent [slide presentation]. Washington, DC: Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the description: “A joint study by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the Human Capital Institute found that although attention to human capital practices varied substantially across industries, the education field was found to be the least likely to engage in ‘enlightened talent management practices.’ In this August 2013 Rhode Island Board of Education Meeting presentation, GTL Center Director Angela Minnici discusses what it would take to attract top talent to the teaching profession. Minnici explains the process of managing educator talent throughout the teacher and school leader career continuum in order to strengthen the educator workforce. This presentation provides strategies for preparation, recruitment and hiring, induction and mentoring, evaluation and professional growth, compensation and incentives, and educator environment.”

Odden, A. (2013). Getting the best people into the toughest jobs: Changes in talent management in education. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “It is indisputable that teachers and principals have the greatest impact on student learning. Unfortunately, the education system has hired and tenured thousands of ineffective teachers and principals, particularly in high-poverty urban and rural schools. As a consequence, these schools have low levels of student learning. To remedy this problem, the nation is engaged in multiple activities to get effective teachers into all classrooms and effective principals into all schools through more ‘strategic management’ of education talent. Strategic talent management is an approach that manages all human resource programs—recruitment, selection, placement, development, evaluation, tenure, promotion, dismissal, and compensation—around a set of effectiveness metrics that capture instructional practice and student-learning growth. The theory is that effective principals should manage schools in ways that facilitate teachers’ acquiring the instructional expertise they need to make them and the school effective—that is to say, successful in dramatically boosting student learning. This paper examines the evolving landscape of talent management in education, which is broken out in five sections: (1) Talent management, or lack thereof, in education at the close of the 20th century; (2) Educational change that began at the dawn of the 21st century; (3) Rumblings of change that evolved into comprehensive new federal and state human-capital management policies and local practices; (4) Rumblings of change that coalesced into a foundation of change across the country and the new world of talent management; and (5) Why the focus on talent evolved and quickly assumed such a prominent role in the nation’s education policy and practice agendas.”

Player, D., Hambrick Hitt, D., & Robinson, W. (2014). District readiness to support school turnaround: A users’ guide to inform the work of state education agencies and districts. Sacramento, CA: Center on School Turnaround at WestEd. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “This guide provides state education agencies (SEAs) and districts (LEAs) with guidance about how to assess the district’s readiness to support school turnaround initiatives. Often, school turnaround efforts focus only on the school’s structure and leadership. Rarely do policymakers or practitioners think about school turnaround as a system-level issue requiring fundamental changes in district-level practice to establish the conditions for school turnaround to succeed. This guide provides an introduction to turnaround readiness conditions that will help districts to best position resources to enable turnaround schools to succeed. The recommendations in this guide are based on the research literature as well as the experience of the University of Virginia’s School Turnaround Program (UVA-STP). This guide is specifically tailored to help assess district-led turnaround initiatives or broader turnaround zone initiatives where a lead partner (in this case the ‘district’) is directing efforts across multiple schools. This guide first describes four focus areas that should be assessed before a district begins a turnaround initiative: (1) leadership; (2) infrastructure to provide differentiated support and accountability; (3) conditions for effective talent management; and (4) effective instructional infrastructure. Each focus area includes examples based on visits with districts before they embarked on significant turnaround efforts. The guide concludes with some practical advice on how to conduct a district turnaround initiative readiness assessment.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for Research –

From the website: “The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders’ (GTL Center) mission is to support states and districts in their efforts to grow, respect, and retain great teachers and leaders for ALL students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • “Talent development” “teacher recruitment”

  • “Talent management”

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-;experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.