Chapter 11 - Staff: Teachers are highly qualified and effective
Classroom teachers determine the success of students and schools. All students perform better when supported by an effective teacher. Studies have shown that a highly effective teacher can affect postsecondary success and future earning as early as kindergarten (Leonhardt, 2010). In 2009, the American Recovery and reinvestment Act reinforced the importance of teacher quality by outlining it as one of the four essential areas of education reform. Chronic teacher absenteeism adversely effects the learning of the students in the classroom. Similarly, if a teacher does not have a strong grasp of the curriculum or is not certified to teach the curriculum, each and every student in the classroom suffers. Schools as a whole suffer when there is high teacher turnover as students need continuity throughout their educational career. By maximizing teacher retention, districts and schools can benefit from quality teachers, therefore spending less on hiring and training new staff.
There is no doubt that teachers play a large role in the success of the students in their classroom. Teachers must be present to be effective. High absenteeism adversely affects all the students for whom a teacher is responsible. Without a regular teacher, students suffer with a fragmented curriculum and inconsistent teaching styles. Regularly monitoring teacher attendance is critical for ensuring student achievement because:
- Teacher absenteeism costs the nation $25.5 billion annually (District Management Council, 2004).
- Students in a classroom with a high level of teacher absenteeism lose their desire to learn (Bruno, 2002).
- High Teacher absenteeism has a more detrimental effect on student achievement than any other single factor (Malik-Jones, 1996).
- High Teacher absenteeism can result in high teacher turnover (Bruno, 2002).
- Substitute teachers are significantly less effective than regular classroom teachers (Elliott & Manlove, 1977).
- Teacher Retention: reports the number of teachers returning from the previous year. Historical and trend data is also reported.
How to Use the Metric
The teacher attendance metric allows administrators and district level personnel to identify teachers who are chronically absent and therefore adversely affecting the learning of the students in their classroom. Any teacher who is frequently absent is flagged. Once individual teachers have been identified, administrators or district personnel should work with said teachers to improve attendance. Additionally the students in the affected classrooms should be monitored more closely.
There are several indicators one should look at when determining if a teacher is qualified for a given position. The first is their certification. All 50 states require teachers to hold some sort of certification in order to teach in a public or charter school. These certifications are earned when a teacher demonstrates knowledge of teaching and curriculum for a given grade or subject area. With the passage of No Child Left Behind, states, schools and districts must track which teachers are certified in the area they are teaching for accountability purposes. This indicator will ensure campus, district, and state level educators are able to track certifications and ensure that all teachers are highly qualified and high needs schools are obtaining the resources needed to succeed. Just as a certification demonstrates that a teacher has a certain set of knowledge, an undergraduate or graduate degree does the same. Knowing the undergraduate as well as any advanced degrees a teacher may hold is important when making staffing decisions. The years of experience a teacher has can help determine students’ success. Students with more experienced teachers do better on standardized tests and earn more than students with less experienced teachers (Leonhardt, 2010; Krueger, 1999)
- Nationally Board Certified: teachers who hold a national board certification.
How to Use the Metric
Teacher certification, education and experience are all important to take into consideration when making hiring and other staffing decisions. As districts and states spend the majority of their budgets on payroll it is imperative for these resources to be monitored. When teachers are not trained in the subject or grade they are teaching, districts must step in by either training or by moving the teacher to a better placement for their skill set. These indicators can also help districts ensure that low performing/high need schools have equitable resources. If there are gaps in resources across the district, leaders can work to close resource gaps by moving teachers to high need areas through incentives.
National Board Certification
The National Board Certification process is highly rigorous and self-reflective. In order to apply a candidate must hold a valid teaching certification and have three or more years of experience in a public or state sponsored school. Any teacher holding a National Board Certification is considered ‘highly qualified’ under the No Child Left behind Act. Candidates then go through a yearlong assessment process where they create an extensive portfolio and are evaluated multiple times in the classroom. Research shows teachers who are National Board Certified are more effective than those who are not (Coltfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2007)
- Teacher Certifications: the current certification a teacher holds.
- Teacher Education: The undergraduate or graduate degree(s) a teacher has earned.
- Teacher Experience: The number of years a teacher has taught a given grade level or subject area.
How to Use the Metric
The Nationally Board Certified metric indicates which teachers hold a National Board Certification. As the National Board Certification process is rigorous and requires much self-reflection, teachers who hold this certification will be reflective of their practice and committed to the profession. Districts should identify high performing teachers or teachers with potential to become leaders who do not hold this certification and help them become Nationally Board Certified in order to further their teaching and leadership skills. Additionally, districts can match teachers who already hold this certification with new teachers as mentors and/or move these teachers to high need areas.
Teachers who remain at the school year after year often gain the respect and trust of the parent and student communities. Retaining highly effective teachers ensures that schools and districts will not have to retrain new staff year after year. This type of continuity is critically important when creating a stable learning environment for all students. In 2008, approximately 84.5% of teachers stayed at the same school, 7.6% moved to a new school and 8.0% left the profession. Teachers who are newer to the profession tend to leave schools in higher numbers than teachers with more experience (Keigher, 2010). Moreover, teachers tend to leave economically disadvantaged schools with large minority populations in higher numbers (Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004). Retaining effective teachers in high need schools ensures better outcomes for those schools.
- A Texas study found that the lowest performing schools will likely have the highest number of teachers new to both the district and the profession. This adversely affects student achievement (Hanushek, O'Brien, Kain, & Rivkin, 2005).
- Although studies have shown that a certain amount of teacher attrition helps keep more effective teachers while weeding out the less effective ones(Goldhaber, Gross, & Player, 2007; Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004), attrition is not equal across school types. More teachers leave school with high poverty and low test scores (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005).
Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). Explaining the short careers of high-achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students. American Economic Review Proceedings, (pp.166-171).
Bruno, J. E. (2002). The geographical distribution of teacher absenteeism in large urban school district settings: Implications for school reform efforts aimed at promoting equality and excellence in education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 32.
Coltfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2007). How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement? CALDER.
District Management Council. (2004). Management Advisory Brief: Reducing teacher absenteeism.
Elliott, P. G., & Manlove, D. C. (1977). The Cost of Skyrocketing Teacher Absenteeism. Phi Delta Kappan Journal, 59.
Goldhaber, D., Gross, P., & Player, D. (2007). Are Public Schools Really Loosing Their "Best"? Assessing Career Transitions of Teachers and Their Implications for the Quality of the Teacher Workforce. CALDER working Paper.
Hanushek, E., Kain, J. F., & Rivkin, S. G. (2004). Why Public Schools Loose Teachers. Journal Of Human Resources, 326-354.
Hanushek, R., O'Brien, D., Kain, J., & Rivkin, S. (2005). The Market for Teacher Quality. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Keigher, A. (2010). Teacher Attrition and Mobility: Results from the 2008-09 Teacher Follow-up Survey. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from National Center for Educational Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch
Krueger, A. B. (1999). Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 114, No. 2, 497-532.
Leonhardt, D. (2010, July 27). The Case for the $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers. The New York Times, p. A1.
Malik-Jones, J. (1996). The relationship of situational and demographic variables to staff attendance and utilization of available absence leave. University of Delaware Doctoral Dissertation.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. (2010). FAST. Austin: Texas State Comptroller.