Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Missouri-Columbia
Improving public sector workforce quality is challenging in sectors such as education where worker productivity is difficult to assess and manager incentives are muted by political and bureaucratic constraints. Struggling schools are at a particular disadvantage in terms of attracting and retaining effective teachers and administrators. In this paper, we study how providing information to principals about teacher effectiveness and encouraging them to use the information in personnel decisions affects teacher attrition patterns. Our setting is a large urban school district, which initiated a new and more rigorous teacher evaluation system district-wide in recent years. Prior to the new system, we show that ineffective teachers were slightly more likely to exit the district overall. There was no difference in exit rates for ineffective teachers between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. The policy increased the teacher exit rate at the district overall and significantly strengthened the negative correlation between teacher exit and quality, particularly at lower performing schools. Our results show that principals leveraged the new evaluation system to improve the composition of the teaching workforce, and that the system has helped to equalize access to teacher quality across schools.