Thursday, January 18, 2018

Biases in the hiring process may contribute to the nation’s $2.2 billion annual teacher turnover problem

The Frontline Research & Learning Institute has released A Leak in the Pipeline: How Hiring Bias Might Be Compounding the Teacher Shortage. The research report aims to increase understanding of where teacher recruiting and hiring practices may be falling short. The analysis suggests that certain biases in the hiring process may contribute to the nation’s $2.2 billion annual teacher turnover problem – often cited by states and districts as a contributor to teacher shortages.

According to the analysis, educators who are applying for positions are often coming from a broad range of sources, including public job boards and interstate websites--yet those who are hired are coming disproportionately from known sources such as local referrals and district websites. While responses to job board postings consistently generated about 40% of active-license candidate applications, school districts selected only about 12% of the applicants from those pipelines. By contrast, while about 15% of applications came from referrals, over 30% of educators were hired from those sources.

A Leak in the Pipeline draws on de-identified hiring and referral data from 832 public school districts in 45 states and more than 250,000 unique applicants from July 2014 to June 2017. The dataset reflects persistent trends across a broad range of school districts. In a time when it is increasingly essential for school districts to adopt more effective strategies for recruiting and hiring teachers, these data can help school leaders examine and adjust their practices to maximize teacher fit, minimize turnover, and improve student outcomes.

“We noticed that hiring practices that seem to be consistent across hundreds of districts might actually be constricting a pipeline of qualified candidates by reducing attention to candidates who come from outside sources, and instead over-emphasizing local referrals,” said Elizabeth Combs, managing director, Frontline Research & Learning Institute and co-author of the report. “This may reflect the presence of likeability bias, a well-documented trend toward choosing people you know, or favoring those who are like you over those who may be better qualified.” 

But familiarity does not guarantee a new hire will be a better fit than a candidate from another source.
“We found that a bias for local candidates may be causing districts to miss out on promising candidates,” said Sarah Silverman, Ph.D., senior vice president at Whiteboard Advisors and co-author of the report. “Districts might actually be reducing the diversity of their candidate pool by selecting few individuals from broad, public sources."

The report suggests school districts could enhance their recruiting and hiring practices by casting a wider net, and then employing a more standardized, rigorous screening and interview process that raises the likelihood that highly qualified, or good fit candidates will be hired even if they do not have an existing personal connection to the school district.

“Districts could benefit from standardizing review systems and using performance-based screening processes, rather than relying too heavily on word of mouth or a local connection.” said,” said Combs. “A different approach to recruiting and hiring can help school leaders choose candidates who will be a better fit, stay longer, and lead to more stability and better outcomes for students.”

Effective Clinical Educator Preparation

Clinical practice and partnership are central to high-quality teacher preparation, and although a variety of delivery models can coexist, they all must incorporate key principles to be effective, according to a report released today by a commission of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).

In the report, A Pivot Toward Clinical Practice, Its Lexicon, and the Renewal of Educator Preparation, the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission describes a “cacophony of perspectives” across today’s teacher preparation programs regarding what constitutes clinical practice. The commission calls on the field to pivot from its “divergent understandings of terms, structures and quality” to embrace a shared direction going forward.

“In recent years, teacher preparation programs have been expanding candidates’ experiences in the schools in a variety of ways and labeling them all ‘clinical practice,’” said Rodrick Lucero, vice president of AACTE, who chairs the commission. “Many of these efforts have resulted in thriving, mutually beneficial partnerships between preparation programs and local schools that serve as laboratories of practice and innovation – but others have not. The commission has worked to identify what makes programs successful in order to assist others in strengthening their own.”

The commission’s recommendations come in the form of 10 essential proclamations for effective clinical preparation, each supported by multiple tenets and a narrative explanation. The proclamations address topics from pedagogy to partnership infrastructure to valuing expertise, citing a combination of professional moral imperatives and research-derived evidence. The report also recommends a common lexicon to define the concepts and entities engaged in clinical preparation, and a summary brief is available highlighting the proclamations and tenets.

Nearly 40 individuals serve on the commission, representing PK-12 schools, universities and education organizations from California to Connecticut, Iowa to Alabama. A full roster is available at

AACTE convened the commission in 2015 to help define and advance clinical practice in teacher preparation. A wide spectrum of models had sprung up following the 2010 report of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Blue Ribbon Panel that called for clinical practice to form the foundation of teacher preparation. In addition to clarifying the parameters of high-quality clinical practice, the commission sought to identify model protocols, solutions to common roadblocks and relevant research to aid partners in crafting stronger programs. These resources will be rolled out later this year.

Report Underplays Critical Issues in Professionalizing Early Childhood Teachers

When Degree Programs for Pre-K Teachers Go Online: Challenges and Opportunities, written by Shayna Cook and published by New America Foundation, argues that appropriately structured online degree programs have the potential to professionalize and increase the quality of early childhood (EC) teachers.

Beth Graue and Erica Ramberg of the University of Wisconsin-Madison reviewed the report and assert that while it draws attention to some of the unique considerations necessary for EC workforce policy, it underplays a number of critical issues in professionalizing the field.
The report contends that online bachelor’s programs offer more flexible and financially accessible pathways for teachers to obtain a degree. These programs are presented in the report as a way to raise standards and thus propel these teachers towards higher quality practice and higher salaries.
Graue and Ramberg conclude that the report lacks adequate treatment of the EC workforce’s economic realities that place these pre-K teachers at the poverty line, regardless of credential or degree. 
The report also is problematic in its choice to present testimonials rather than evidence of outcomes for online programs. 
Finally, though recognizing the importance of “high-quality” EC programs, the report leaves the term under-analyzed.
Unfortunately, without a nuanced discussion of these issues, the report’s usefulness is limited.
Find the review, by Beth Graue and Erica Ramberg, at:
Find When Degree Programs for Pre-K Teachers Go Online: Challenges and Opportunities, written by Shayna Cook and published by New America Foundation, at:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Quality Counts 2018: Nation Earns C on Annual Report Card for Fourth Year in a Row

Massachusetts Takes Top Spot on ‘Grading the States’ Report Card 

Education Week’ s annual Quality Counts assessment of the nation’s educational system takes on a new look and approach this year, with three in - depth reports being rolled out over the course of the year. As it has for more than two decades, Quality Counts will continue to rank the nation and the states, and delve into student achievement, K - 12 funding, and educational factors that contribute to an individual’s prospects from cradle to career. This new format, however, will deliver tightly focused insight into the data behind the annual grading, combined with multiple opportunities for policymakers, educators, and the public to engage with the findings and apply them to improving America’s schools. 

Released today, the first of these installments — Grading the States: Quality Counts2018 — features national and state - by - state grades, data , and analysis from the Education Week Research Center . The report also includes companion articles by Education Week reporters offering context about state and national performance. 

The data and analysis in the follow - up installments will investigat e school spending and finance (to be released in June ) and K - 12 achievement and Education Week’s Chance - for - Success Index (September ). 


The centerpiece of Quality Counts remains its annual report card on the state of education for the nation and for each of the states. As in the past, this latest edition of Quality Counts provides overall summative grades , as well as scores in each of the three categories that make up the report’s grading rubric: K - 12 Achievement, Chance for Success, and School Finance. The nation as a whole receives a grade of C on the 2018 annual report card with a score of 74.5 out of a possible 100, a slight uptick that continues several years of essentially fl at performance. 

Massachusetts finished first in the overall ranking, with the only B plus and a score of 86.8. It is followed closely by four states earning B grades: New Jersey (85.9), Vermont (84.1), New Hampshire (83.7) and Connecticut (83.0). 

With a grade of D, Nevada received the nation’s lowest score (65.0); New Mexico also earns a D (66.2). Mississippi improved its ranking slightly to a D plus, with a score of 66.8. 

In the school finance category, the nation ’s grade is a C for 2018. There, Wyoming earns the only A - minus and seizes the top spot, which it has occupied for most of the past decade. Idaho ranks last on school finance with a D - minus. With a C - minus for the U.S. as a whole, the nation has its weakest showing on the K - 12 Achievement Index, which was last updated in 2016. 

In a package of articles  accompanying the national and state - by - state grades,  Education Week explores what makes some of the highest - performing states so successful,  how some chronically  challenged states are facing the hurdles holding them back, and  key lessons for policymakers elsewhere.  The report also highlights factors  that  experts and advocates see as systemic barriers to improvement  nationally.   

Find national and state grades, and reporting on  the stories behind the data :

Interactive Map and Report Card — Explore the state of the states and the nation, and delve into  detailed grades in critical areas of educational performance :

State  and National Highlights Reports — These online - onl y reports assess each state’s  performance on key indicators :

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Education available to public school students "profoundly unequal"

On January 11,  the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released  Public Education Funding Inequity in an Era of Increasing  Concentration of Poverty  and Resegregation. 

Based on extensive research and expert testimony, including that  collected at the Commission’s public briefing , the  report  addresses pervasive disparities  in funding for public education, and offers actionable recommendations with a goal of  improving educational opportunity and student achievement across all segments of our  nat ion’s student population. 

Key findings and recommendations from  a majority of the Commission include :     

• Vast funding inequities are a significant factor in rendering  education available to  public school students profoundly unequal. 
• This reality of American schooling is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideal of  public education as a means to equalize life opportunity, regardless of resident,  race, economic status, or life circumstance. 
• The majority of states do not allocate more funding to high -poverty school  districts.
 • Low -income students and students of color are often relegated to low -quality  school facilities. • 
Inequalities in educational opportunities are exacerbated by racial segregation  and concentrated poverty. 

• Congress should declare  education a federal right. 
• Congress should incentivize states to adopt equitable school finance systems,  ensure adequate funding for students with disabilities ,  and invest in facilities for  equitable environment s for students to achieve.   
 • Congress should increase federal funding to supplement state funding; promote  collection, monitoring, and evaluation of school spending data; and develop  mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of federal spending. 

Chair Catherine E. Lhamon said, “Perv asive funding inequities continue to plague the  nation’s public schools, undermining core American principles of fairness and crippling  national progress.  The Commission majority urges Congress to act now to secure a  federal education right and incent swi ft and strong state a ction to protect learning  opportunity for all students.”  


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

School climate and diversity may affect students' delinquent behaviors

In a Journal of School Health study, race, sex, perceived peer inclusion, and teacher discrimination were predictors of students' delinquent behaviors.

As expected, the study of 8947 African American and White students found that being a male was associated with higher delinquent behavior scores. Conversely, being an African American was associated with lower delinquent behavior scores.

Similarly, students who perceived their school climate to be non-discriminatory and inclusive reported lower delinquent behavior scores. These findings indicate students' perceptions of their school climate may be an important influence on students' delinquent behaviors.

Surprisingly, as schools' average perceived peer inclusion increased, so did students' delinquent behavior scores. The study also found that as the average percentage of African American teachers in schools increased, students' delinquent behavior scores decreased.

"It is not surprising that increasing school diversity is important to reduce both African American and White students' delinquent behaviors," said corresponding author Dr. Brittany Darlene Chambers, of the University of California, San Francisco. "Findings from this study stress the need for programs to incentivize teachers of color to enter and remain in our school systems."

Teaching English learners: Teachers with certification in language arts instruction did nobetterthan teachers with certification in other areas

In this study researchers compared pre/post classroom assessment scores of n = 8,326 K-12 students taught by n = 288 teacher candidates to determine if a differentiated teacher education program prepared them to support English learners’ (ELs) achievement in classrooms including native and nonnative speakers of English.

 Candidates in Group 1 comprised academic subject (secondary mathematics, science, and social studies) teacher candidates, who completed six teacher preparation courses with 15 key assignments that included a focus on ELs.

Certification areas for Group 2 candidates include language arts instruction (elementary, early childhood, and secondary English language arts). Group 2 candidates completed from 12 to 15 courses with 41 to 50 key assignments that included a focus on ELs.

Results indicate that teacher candidates in both groups helped narrow the gap between ELs and non-ELs from pretests to posttests. ELs performed no differently when taught by candidates from either group.