Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education
Teacher Hiring Practices
Do current hiring practices miss critical signals that indicate top teaching talent?
It has been well established that teacher quality is the most important school-based determinant of a child’s educational outcomes. Research relating observable characteristics of prospective teachers to their later productivity in the classroom has uncovered many attributes of prospective teachers that have little or no relationship to their later productivity. However, there are a few preservice attributes that hold promise for identifying future superior teachers. These include the pathway to becoming a teacher, subject content knowledge (particularly for middle and high school math and science teachers), licensure exam scores (particularly scores on the Praxis II exam) and noncognitive skills. Challenges remain, however, in how best to measure these attributes and the potential heterogeneity in the predictive power of these attributes across different types of teachers.
There appears to be a disconnect between current hiring practices of school districts and what is known about signals of teacher productivity. The factors that predict the likelihood a candidate is hired frequently bear little resemblance to characteristics that are positively related to teacher productivity. At present, teacher hiring processes frequently may not be able to select the most capable applicants for employment regardless of amount of application information. However, providing additional information on candidate characteristics does appear to at least improve satisfaction of the involved parties.
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