Working Papers and Work in Progress

Can a Commercial Screening Tool Help Select Better Teachers? (with Matthew A. Lenard)

Coming soon.

Two Years Later: How COVID-19 has Shaped the Teacher Workforce (with Andrew Bacher-Hicks and Alexis Orellana)

Working paper: EdWorkingPapers.

Summary presentations and policy reports available at WEPC.

Media coverage: Boston25, WBUR (April 2022), FiveThirtyEight, Time, WBUR (October 2021)


A Classroom Observer Like Me: The Effects of Race-congruence and Gender-congruence Between Teachers and Raters on Observation Scores. Forthcoming in Education Finance and Policy. Available as WEPC Working Paper 2021-1 and EdWorkingPaper No. 21-470.

Abstract: State and local education agencies across the country are prioritizing the goal of diversifying the teacher workforce. To further understand the challenges of diversifying the teacher pipeline, I investigate race and gender dynamics between teachers and school-based administrators, who are key decision-makers in hiring, evaluating, and retaining teachers. I use longitudinal data from a large school district in the southeastern United States to examine the effects of race-congruence and gender-congruence between teachers and observers/administrators on teachers’ observation scores. Using models with two-way fixed effects, I find that teachers, on average, experience small positive increases in their scores from sharing race or gender with their observers, raising fairness concerns for teachers whose race or gender identities are not reflected by any of their raters.

Teacher Skill Development: Evidence from Performance Ratings by Principals (with Matthew A. Kraft and John P. Papay). 2020. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(2): 315-347. Also available as EdWorkingPaper No. 19-97.

Abstract: We examine the dynamic nature of teacher skill development using panel data on principals’ subjective performance ratings of teachers. Past research on teacher productivity improvement has focused primarily on one important but narrow measure of performance: teachers’ value-added to student achievement on standardized tests. Unlike value-added, subjective performance ratings provide detailed information about specific skill dimensions and are available for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects. Using a within-teacher returns-to-experience framework, we find, on average, large and rapid improvements in teachers’ instructional practices throughout their first 10 years on the job as well as substantial differences in improvement rates across individual teachers. We also document that subjective performance ratings contain important information about teacher effectiveness. In the district we study, principals appear to differentiate teacher performance throughout the full distribution instead of just in the tails. Furthermore, prior performance ratings and gains in these ratings provide additional information about teachers’ ability to improve test scores that is not captured by prior value-added scores. Taken together, our study provides new insights on teacher performance improvement and variation in teacher development across instructional skills and individual teachers.