Increasing the Supply of Effective Teachers in High-Poverty Schools in a Heterogeneous School District: Facilitators and Constraints Open Access
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The purpose of this study was to clarify the ways that a district used its teacher staffing and professional development policies to increase the supply of effective teachers in high-poverty schools, to determine the efficacy of these policies in the view of district administrators and teachers, and to identify the facilitators and constraints to accomplishing the district's goal. The study was conducted in a socioeconomically heterogeneous district that had instituted signing bonuses, performance incentives, and enhanced professional development in an effort to improve teacher quality in its high-poverty schools. The conceptual framework guiding this study was a model of the human capital system in schools, which illustrates that increasing the supply of effective teachers in high-poverty schools is achieved by targeting recruitment to those schools, allocating teachers to the placements where they are most needed, evaluating effectiveness and providing professional development, and retaining effective teachers. Qualitative data were collected primarily in the form of interviews with district administrators, principals, and teachers in three high-poverty and three low-poverty schools. Results indicated that recruiting and allocating teachers to high-poverty schools were not difficult in the current economy. Results also showed that the lack of vacancies in the district was primarily due to principals' reluctance to remove marginally effective teachers, the satisfaction of teachers in low-poverty schools, and the economy overall. The lack of vacancies inhibited teacher transfers within the district. District and school-based participants held differing viewpoints about the impact of the district's performance incentive policies on teacher retention: administrators reported that the policies had reduced teacher turnover in high-poverty schools, whereas teachers reported that turnover remained high in some schools and that the incentives were not the reason for the decreased overall turnover. School-based participants also reported that the teacher leaders and coaches were appreciated and played a key role in improving the skills of teachers in high-poverty schools. The results highlighted the role of the job market, both in teachers' recruitment and retention decisions and in the evaluation of district policies. They also underscored the limitations of value-added measures of teacher effectiveness and the policies based on them.