Strategic Involuntary Teacher Transfers and Teacher Performance: Examining Equity and Efficiency


Jason Grissom


Susanna Loeb


Nathaniel Nakashima

Year of Publication: 
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

Despite claims that school districts need flexibility in teacher assignment to allocate teachers more equitably across schools and improve district performance, the power to involuntarily transfer teachers to different schools remains hotly contested in many districts because of the potential for teachers to be treated arbitrarily or unfairly. Little research has examined involuntary transfer policies or their effects on schools, teachers, or students. This article uses administrative data from Miami-Dade County Public Schools to examine the district’s involuntary transfer policy, including which schools utilized the opportunity to transfer teachers, which teachers were chosen, where they were moved, and how their performance as measured by student value-added compared before and after the transfer. We find that the policy was effective at identifying for transfer relatively low-performing teachers in the lowest-performing schools who, on the basis of observable characteristics, would have been unlikely to leave on their own. We also find that involuntarily transferred teachers were systematically moved to higher-performing schools, suggesting that policy may be equity-enhancing. However, their performance in the new schools continued to be low, suggesting few efficiency gains from better matching.

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APA Citation

Grissom, J. A., Loeb, S., & Nakashima, N. (2014). Strategic Involuntary Teacher Transfers and Teacher Performance: Examining Equity and Efficiency. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(1), 112–140.

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