Education Policy Analytics Lab


Systematic Teacher Talent Management: Partnering to Support Beginning and Struggling Veteran Teachers

Starting in 2018-19, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the Seattle Education Association have embarked on a major joint labor-management program titled Peer Assistance and Review (PAR). PAR aims to build an integrated talent management system to effectively support teachers’ professional growth. This research-practice partnership between SPS’s HR Department, Research & Evaluation Department, and EPAL aims to accomplish three primary goals: (a) to gather evidence on baseline teacher effectiveness and HR practices; (b) to conduct rapid cycle, iterative, and problem-driven data inquiries to study PAR implementation; (c) to build SPS’s data capacity, and (d) to identify policy levers for developing a culturally responsive workforce. Our joint work will develop the effectiveness of the entire teacher workforce through particularly focusing on talent management for beginning and struggling veteran teachers, with the long term goal of promoting more equitable access to high quality teachers and student outcomes.

Key ideas:

  • Develop research-practice partnerships to meaningfully integrate research into practice
  • Eliminate student achievement gaps through developing more effective and culturally responsive teachers
  • District systematic support for beginning and struggling veteran teachers
  • Peer mentoring and coaching
  • Teacher evaluation
  • Data analytics of district human resources data
  • Mixed methods to monitor reforms and use evidence to adjust program implementation

Timeline: 2017-Present // Funder: Institute of Education Sciences

Using Text as Data to Understand School Improvement Strategies and their Impacts

The new wave of school reform under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) gives much more flexibility to states and school districts to design and implement evidence-based school improvement strategies that are also situated in local contexts. Yet our knowledge on the actions and activities that move the needles lack specificity and rigor. To learn useful lessons from the current school improvement efforts, we focus on School Improvement Grants (SIG), a federal targeted initiative to incentivize dramatic school transformation in the lowest-performing schools in the state of Washington. This project uses novel, computer-assisted techniques (e.g., Structural Topic Model using latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA)) to analyze longitudinal textual data from over 2,200 comprehensive planning, implementation, and monitoring reports from about 400 schools over 4 years. Our main goal is to identify the content and intensity of specific reform activities that were actually implemented in SIG schools and are associated with positive changes in student outcomes (e.g., achievement, attendance, discipline).

This project:

  • Significantly extends our knowledge of organizing comprehensive school reforms to transform the lowest performing schools
  • Develops novel techniques of textual analysis to inform evidence-based reforms
  • Provides timely support for forthcoming school improvement efforts in Washington through an ongoing research-practice partnership

Timeline: 2016-Present // Funder: UW Royal Research Fund, Spencer Foundation

Exploring Beginning Mathematics Teachers’ Career Patterns

This five-year Faculty Career Development (CAREER) project integrates research, education, and outreach activities that focus on the improvement and career patterns of mathematics teachers, particularly those who work in high-need K-12 schools that serve minority, poor, or under-performing students. This project uses longitudinal measures from surveys and state administrative databases. Three samples will be analyzed separately and also collectively: nationally representative samples from B&B, SASS-TFS, and BTLS, two state samples from North Carolina and Washington teachers (replaced Florida, as approved in last year). In addition of using secondary data, this project also aims to collect original survey data from beginning teachers to study how teacher preparation may influence teacher growth patterns and their career movements.

The primary outcome will be an evidence-based theory on ways to improve the quality and equity of distribution of the mathematics teaching workforce to further improve students’ mathematics learning and to close the achievement gap across schools. It will be achieved by addressing four research and educational objectives:

  • Explore patterns in the timing, rates, and types of math teachers’ career movements. I also plan to compare math teacher patterns to counterparts who taught other subject areas, and between minority and white teachers, and between disadvantaged schools and advantaged schools
  • Compare qualifications and performance growth of teachers on different career paths
  • Test the conceptual model of how policy-malleable factors influence math teachers’ performance improvement and career movements
  • Integrate research into teaching, advising, and outreach activities to promote the use of large-scale data to inform policy, and recommend effective teacher retention strategies to practitioners

Timeline: 2013-Present // Funder: National Science Foundation

Collaborating to Build School and Systems Capacity for Racial Equity

Within a district equity initiative, how can racial equity teams build systems capacity and improve educator practice and outcomes for students of color marginalized by educational systems? A wave of racial equity policies and initiatives has emerged in districts across the country to address persistent racial disparities in student discipline and learning. Yet, we have limited understanding of the instructional and leadership practices that can effectively reduce inequalities in opportunities to learn, academic identities and student outcomes. This participatory design-based implementation research (PDBIR) study leverages Racial Equity Teams (RETs), an initiative undertaken by Seattle Public Schools and its teachers’ union, to co-design and catalyze interventions that address racial inequities at multiple scales.

Building from our first phase, we draw on a codesign and implementation framework and convergent mixed methods approach to examine how two RET co-design teams within a district-union-community-research partnership develop restorative disciplinary practices, practices to integrate race and equity into mathematics and social studies instruction, and the equitable leadership practices to support and sustain their implementation both within schools and across a system. This project will contribute new strategies and capacities to disrupt racial inequalities in schools as well as new theory about equity-centered systems transformation.

Timeline: 2016-Present // Funder: Spencer Foundation