It's no secret that highly-effective teachers are disproportionately found in low-need schools instead of the high-need schools that could use them the most. Private partnerships as well as government initiatives aim to turn this trend around and attract star educators to more challenging settings. But is there any guarantee that an effective teacher in one school is going to still be effective in a much different setting?
Analysts from the American Institutes for Research tackled this important question in a new CALDER working paper on the portability of teacher effectiveness. They studied the value-added scores of elementary and secondary teachers in Florida and North Carolina to see how moving between schools might change teachers' effectiveness. Unlike typical value-added models which control for school fixed effects, Zeyu Xu, Umut Özek, and Matthew Corritore captured the potential impact of changed school settings.
What they found is good news for high-need schools: teachers' effectiveness did not change regardless of whether they moved from a low-need school to a high-need school or from a high-need school to a low-need school. The researchers did identify some "regression to the mean" in the post-move years, but this is common given the yearly fluctuations in teacher performance measurements. This finding seems sure to strengthen the case for incentivizing teachers' movement into high-need schools.