University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Tell Me What You Want (Schools), What You Really, Really Want…

In The View from the OEP on September 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

The OEP released a new Arkansas Education Report (AER)  titled What Do Schools Look for in Prospective Teachers? An Analysis of Teacher Application Documents. This report examines a straightforward question: What do district leaders seek in teacher applicants? In order to get a clearer picture of 1) what districts value in teachers and 2) how they hire teachers, this report examines those qualities among the teacher workforce districts consider when reviewing applications for new hires.

We analyze the information requested by school districts on their application materials to answer these questions. Although districts use a variety of methods to screen potential teachers, the application is the first step to employment in a district. The application allows districts to collect important information on applicants, which, in turn is information used to determine which teachers will be subject to further screening (notably in an interview). Although we do not capture the entirety of what schools are looking for in applicants, we can draw some conclusions from the information they gather from potential teachers via the application materials.

Of all the characteristics requested on teacher applications, we focus on two in particular that many observers believe are strongly associated with future teaching effectiveness: prior academic achievement and prior teaching results. Prior academic achievement of a teacher includes past test scores (ACT, SAT, GRE, etc), college GPA (and masters GPA, if applicable), and scores on the PRAXIS teaching exams. Prior teaching results might include student test score growth for each teacher, principal evaluations, or other highlights from a teacher’s classroom work (e.g. projects a teacher did with a class). Some states, such as Tennessee, report a value-added measure for every teacher, which considers student test scores and principal evaluations for each teacher. Because Arkansas does not report a value-added or similar measure for teachers, it would be difficult to succinctly report this information. However, Arkansas teachers could report their student test score growth, or their principal evaluations could be made available to the new school to assist school administrators when hiring new teachers. Changes are on the horizon as Arkansas is developing the new Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS), making the reporting of this information more convenient.

Check out our latest AER to learn more about what schools look for in prospective teachers!!!!

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