Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably:
California

Teacher and Principal Evaluation Policy

Goal

The state should publicly report districts' distribution of teacher talent among schools to identify inequities in schools serving disadvantaged children. This goal was reorganized in 2021.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably: California results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CA-Distributing-Teacher-Talent-Equitably-95

Analysis of California's policies

School-level data about teacher performance: California does not publicly report school-level data about teacher performance.

Research-based factors: California reports on the number of teachers without full credentials, teacher vacancies, and teacher "misassignments"—all at the school level. The state does not provide additional school-level data that also include factors such as:

  • The percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record at a certain date;
  • Teacher absenteeism rate; and
  • The percentage of effective teachers disaggregated by student subgroup, by school, and by teaching area.

Citation

Recommendations for California

Report school- and student-level teacher effectiveness data.
To ensure that it is accurately reflecting all existing equity gaps, California should consider reporting not only school-level data but also student-level data regarding educator effectiveness. NCTQ encourages California to report data at the more granular student level, consistent with applicable privacy constraints, because student-level data are necessary to illuminate educator equity gaps that exist within schools.

Publish other data that facilitate comparisons across schools.
California should collect and report other school-level data that reflect the stability of a school's faculty, including: the percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record at a certain date; teacher absenteeism rate; and the percentage of effective teachers disaggregated by student subgroup, by school, and by teaching area. 

State response to our analysis

California was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis and was helpful in clarifying terminology used in the grading rationale for this goal. The state indicated that the percentage of first and second year teachers is available on the Department of Education's longitudinal data website, Dataquest. Additionally, California notes that beginning with data on the 2020-21 school year, the state will publicly report local educational agency (LEA, e.g. school district)-level data about teacher assignments including vacancies and misassignments.  LEAs will be able to view and provide school site-level data to their LEA stakeholders.

California indicated that the term "teacher effectiveness" is not defined in this report and asserted that a definition was necessary to effectively respond as to whether California meets this goal. The state also asserted that terms such as "teacher effectiveness" is linked variously to "student growth" and "objective measures of student growth," both of which are also undefined terms throughout the report. The state cited the 2016 Learning Policy Institute report, where experience is considered a key factor for effective teachers. California indicated that this report and many others have referred to a multitude of other factors that could define an effective teacher but were not clearly defined when analyzing the proposed goals presented in this report. 

California indicated that on the Intern, Permit, and Waiver dashboard there is data about the number and percent of teachers per district. The Commission does not have this data at the school level. Teachers on less than full credentials are limited to a district, not a specific school.

Updated: March 2021

Last word

NCTQ has consistently referred to student growth as one of the main indicators of teacher effectiveness. Regarding the use of student growth to measure teacher effectiveness, California is invited to review NCTQ's research rationale at the bottom of the "Measures of Student Growth" goal. Additionally, NCTQ does not prescribe the types of measures of student growth used by states, but only that they are objective. Some examples of objective measures of student growth, in addition to statewide standardized assessments, are: student learning objectives (SLOs), district-level pre- and post-tests; and teacher-developed assessments. For teachers of non-tested grades and subjects specifically, student growth measures may include: teacher-set goals for student learning; student performance assessments, including portfolio projects, problem-solving protocols and internships; teacher-developed assessments; standardized assessments; and district-established assessments.

How we graded

7F: Distributing Teacher Talent Equitably 

  • Teacher Performance Data: The state should make aggregate school-level data about teacher effectiveness publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
  • Research-based factors: The state should make publicly available for each school, consistent with applicable privacy constraints, research-based factors associated with teacher effectiveness, such as:
    • Percentage of first- and second-year teachers
    • Teacher absenteeism rate
    • Percentage of teachers on emergency credentials
    • Percentage of effective teachers, disaggregated by school, student subgroup, and teaching area
Teacher Performance Data
Three-quarters of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it makes aggregate school-level data on teacher effectiveness publicly available, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will be eligible for one-quarter of a point if data on teacher effectiveness is publicly reported only at the district level, consistent with applicable privacy constraints.
Research-based factors:
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it provides, for each individual school, consistent with applicable privacy constraints, at least one research-based factor, such as: the percentage of first- and second-year teachers employed as teachers of record; teacher absenteeism; the percentage of emergency credentialed teachers; the percentage of effective teachers disaggregated by student subgroup, school, and teaching area.

Research rationale

Distribution data on teachers across schools should show more than just teachers' years of experience and highly qualified status. Transparency is one of the most important tools states have to promote the equitable distribution of teachers within and across higher and lower-need schools and districts.[1] States generally publicly report little more than what is mandated by federal requirements, which highlight years of experience and highly-qualified status. However, while teaching experience matters, the benefits of experience are largely accumulated within the first few years of teaching.[2] School districts that try to equalize experience among all schools are overestimating its impact. There is no reason why a school with many teachers with only three or five years' experience cannot outperform a school with teachers who have an average of more than 10 years' experience.

For this reason, states need to report data that are more informative about a school's teachers. As more states require evaluation systems based primarily on teacher effectiveness, the most important distribution data that a state can make available is school-level data about teacher performance. This is not to say that individual teacher ratings should be reported, but school level data would shine an important light on whether all students have access to effective teachers.

In addition to performance data, states and districts should also track and report school-level teacher absenteeism rates. When a teacher misses ten or more days of school, the decline in student achievement is often proportionate to the differences in achievement seen between students taught by a new teacher compared to those taught by a teacher with two to three years of experience. Further, studies have found that teachers serving low income and minority students have higher absence rates, on average, which may contribute to the achievement gap. In fact, it is well-documented that these averages are not representative of the bulk of teachers, as 16 percent of teachers account for almost one-third of teacher absences.[3]

States can also provide meaningful information by using an index for quantifying important teacher credentials found to correlate with student achievement. A good example of a strong index is the academic capital index developed by the Illinois Education Research Council, incorporating teachers' average SAT or ACT scores, the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure test at least once, the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials, average selectivity of teachers' undergraduate colleges, and the percentage of new teachers.[4] These factors are complicated, so the state should install a system that translates them into something more easily understood, such as a color-coded matrix indicating a high or low score for a school.

States need to report data at the level of the individual school. Only by achieving greater stability in the staffing of individual schools can districts achieve the nation's goal of more equitable distribution of teacher quality. A strong reporting system reflecting effectiveness data and the index described above, as well as data on teacher attrition, teacher absenteeism, and teacher credentials, can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.

The lack of such data feeds a misconception that all high-poverty schools are similarly unable to retain staff because of their demographics. Yet, staff stability actually varies considerably across schools with similar numbers of poor and/or minority children. Within-district comparisons are crucial in order to control for as many elements specific to a district as possible, such as a collective bargaining agreement (or the district's personnel policies) and the amount of resources.


[1] For comprehensive review of the literature on teacher quality and distribution, see: Rice, J. K. (2010). The impact of teacher experience: Examining the evidence and policy implications (Brief No. 11).  National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001455-impact-teacher-experience.pdf; For more about how poor and minority children do not get their fair share of high-quality teachers, see: Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2017). Teacher quality and teacher mobility. Education Finance and Policy, 12(3), 396-418. Retrieved from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/EDFP_a_00214?journalCode=edfp; Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics, 72(2), 104-122.; Peske, H. G., & Haycock, K. (2006). Teaching inequality: How poor and minority students are shortchanged on teacher quality: A report and recommendations by the Education Trust. Education Trust. Retrieved from
http://www.edtrust.org/dc/press-room/press-release/teaching-inequality-how-poor-and-minority-students-are-shortchanged-on-t; Education Trust also produced an analysis of the first set of state Equity Plans that pointed out the inadequacies of most states' data systems to produce reliable information about teacher qualifications and experience levels in schools disaggregated by poverty and racial composition of schools. Although almost all states were required to resubmit their plans and earned approval for them, many of the shortcomings of state data systems remained. For example, few states are equipped to identify by school, teachers' years of experience, meaning they cannot identify the ratio of new teachers to the full school staff. See: Education Trust. (2006). Missing the mark: States' teacher equity plans fall short. Retrieved from  https://edtrust.org/resource/missing-the-mark-states-teacher-equity-plans-fall-short/
[2] For more about teachers' effectiveness in the early years of teaching, see: Gordon, R., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job (The Hamilton Project Policy Brief No. 2006-01). Brookings Institution. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200604hamilton_1.pdf; See also: Rice, J. K. (2003). Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.
[3] Nithya, J., Waymack, N., & Zielaski, D. (2014, June). Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_TeacherAttendance
[4] For an example of a teacher quality index, see: White, B. R., Presley, J. B., & DeAngelis, K. J. (2008). Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois. Illinois Education Research Council. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502243.pdf