School districts could hire teachers who are more likely to be successful in the classroom by paying attention to their academic credentials and also asking to see them teach a mock lesson, according to new research.
Here’s the catch: That information is only helpful if it’s actually acted on.
The study was. It was written by five scholars, all hailing from different institutions: Brian Jacob, Jonah Rockoff, Eric Taylor, Benjamin Lindy, and Rachel Rosen.
The District of Columbia school system created a special hiring process, called Teach DC, in 2011. It had several stages, including specialized tests, essays, and a teaching audition. Teaching candidates who passed all the stages of the processwere “recommended” and their applications made available to principals to bring in for interviews. Principals could log into the system and see the teachers’ materials and demonstration lesson, and decide whether to bring those teachers in for interviews. But they weren’t required to hire only from the approved lists.
For their study, the researchers tracked 7,000 candidates who applied through Teach DC between 2011 and 2013, following them through the 2013-14 school year. They found that applicants’ GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, and the selectivity of the colleges they attended all predicted their later classroom performance to some degree. So did the demonstration teaching lesson and a test of their pedagogical content knowledge. But none of the measures studied bore much of a relationship to the applicant who ultimately got hired, indicating that while principals did hire from the recommended list, they didn’t always examine or put much stock in these subcomponents.
A version of this article appeared in the March 23, 2016 edition of Education Week as Study Finds Promise in D.C. Teacher-Hiring Program