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Title: Sectoral Interests: Factors Affecting the Uneven Distribution of Experienced Teachers Across Charter and Traditional Public Schools
Authors: Ennis, John
Advisors: Jennings, Jennifer
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: High-quality teachers have positive impacts on their students’ academic and social development. Scholars have concluded that teacher quality, as measured by student achievement, is positively associated with teachers’ years of experience in the classroom. Unfortunately, experienced teachers are not evenly distributed to students across the nation. Black, Hispanic, and poor students are more likely than their white and non-poor peers to be exposed to inexperienced teachers. With the emergence of charter schools, an uneven distribution of experienced teachers has developed across school sectors. Students at charter schools, particularly those that operate according to a No Excuses philosophy, are more likely to have inexperienced teachers. The factors that produce this pattern are poorly understood. In this thesis, I examine four hypotheses that could explain the distribution of inexperienced teachers across school sectors. To do so, I analyze data from the state of California, which has a substantial charter sector. By analyzing five years of school-level administrative data from the California State Department of Education, I find no support for the hypotheses that sectoral differences in teacher experience result from (1) differences in grade levels taught, (2) differences in student demographic characteristics, or (3) differences in geographic location. To examine the merit of the fourth hypothesis, that differences in principal preferences across sector may affect where inexperienced teachers work, I analyze the results of a survey that I distributed to principals in California and to which 357 principals responded. I find significant between-sector variation in the ways that principals recruit and interview for open teaching positions and assess the qualities of applicants. Charter schools are more likely to have their applicants demonstrate sample lessons in the interview process, and tend to conduct more total interviews than traditional public schools. Principals in the charter sector are additionally more likely to value the personal characteristics, such as adaptability, of teacher applicants compared to traditional public schools. Importantly, principals in the charter sector do not show any significant difference in their preferences for teachers’ years of experience. Finally, I find evidence that teacher turnover is higher at charter schools than at traditional public schools, which may pressure charter principals to forgo their preferences in favor of meeting the staffing needs of their schools. These findings suggest that the ways in which principals conduct the hiring process, and how they exercise, and are capable of exercising, their preferences for teachers may lead to variation in the characteristics of teachers that work in each sector. Together, the results presented in this thesis suggest that sectoral differences in principals’ preferences have an impact on the distribution of inexperienced teachers, and suggest new directions for future research on sectoral differences in principal and teacher preferences.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2019

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