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Teach for America Placement and Teacher Vacancies: Evidence from the Mississippi Delta


by Chris Curran — 2017

Background/Context: TFA represents an influential yet controversial preparation route for new teachers. In recent years, TFA has received criticism from traditionally trained teachers and schools of education on the basis that they are crowding out or taking positions away from non-TFA teachers. Despite this criticism, research on TFA has tended to focus on its impact on student outcomes rather than on its implications for teacher labor markets.

Research Questions: This study explores the relationship between TFA placement in school districts in the Mississippi Delta and district advertised vacancies to provide the first evidence on the impact of TFA on teacher labor market outcomes. The questions addressed include the following: What is the relationship between TFA presence in a Mississippi school district and the number of district vacancies advertised through the state board of education? Do these relationships vary by characteristics of the vacancy such as grade level or subject area?

Setting: This study uses data on school districts in the state of Mississippi for an 11-year period from 2001 through 2011.

Research Design: This study utilizes two primary analytic strategies. The first encompasses school district and year fixed effects with a series of time-varying control variables to identify the impact of TFA placement off changes in the use of TFA by districts over time. The second approach capitalizes on an abrupt increase in the presence of TFA in Mississippi starting in 2009 by using a difference-in-differences design. A series of robustness and sensitivity checks are also included.

Findings/Results: The results indicate that the presence of TFA in a district predicts approximately 11 fewer advertised vacancies per year per district and that each additional TFA teacher placed in a district predicts approximately one less advertised vacancy.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The results indicate that in the Mississippi Delta, TFA appears to be filling teacher vacancies. This suggests that the continued use of TFA by districts may be a viable solution to addressing teacher shortages.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 2, 2017, p. 1-24
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21717, Date Accessed: 8/24/2017 12:57:32 AM

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About the Author
  • Chris Curran
    University of Maryland
    E-mail Author
    F. CHRIS CURRAN, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and the primary advisor of the education policy track at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County School of Public Policy. His research focuses on teacher labor markets, early childhood and elementary school policy, and issues of school discipline.
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