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Piecing Together the Teacher Policy Landscape: A Policy Problem Typology

by Jennifer King Rice, Christopher Roellke, Dina Sparks & Tammy Kolbe - 2009

Background/Context: Evidence suggests that teachers are a critical resource in realizing high-quality educational opportunities for all students. However, many school systems across the country continue to employ large numbers of teachers who, by most indicators, do not fit into the category of “high quality.” Although policy makers at various levels of government have responded to the teacher staffing problem, we know very little about the range of strategies being used or how these strategies are packaged together.

Purpose/Objective: This article presents and applies a three-dimensional typology designed to organize and analyze the array of teacher policies across education systems. This analytic tool extends current approaches to studying teacher policy in three ways. First, our approach recognizes the multidimensional nature of the teacher staffing problem and the array of policy responses to it. Second, we acknowledge that multiple levels of the system are simultaneously at work to address teacher staffing and teacher quality, so that each policy at any given level is part of a broader web of policies being employed across the educational system. Finally, our study emphasizes the importance of considering teacher policy “packages” to understand what is currently being done to address critical staffing issues and what needs to be done if we are serious about staffing all classrooms with highly qualified teachers.

Research Design: We developed the typology using data from a national scan of teacher policy, based on a broad review of scholarly literature, state and district documents and Web sites, a national data set, and interviews with education leaders at the national, state, and district levels. We tested and refined this tool using data from multilevel, nested case studies of teacher policy in three states: Maryland, New York, and Connecticut.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The study makes both conceptual and empirical contributions. Conceptually, we have developed and tested a useful tool for policy makers and researchers to examine the range of policies and resources being employed to address the various dimensions of the teacher staffing problem. Empirically, this study provides information on the constellations of teacher policies across levels of the education system in three states and presents findings on the range and reach of teacher policies at the state, district, and school levels.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 2, 2009, p. 511-546
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15223, Date Accessed: 5/14/2021 9:06:22 AM

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About the Author
  • Jennifer King Rice
    University of Maryland
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER KING RICE is associate professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at the University of Maryland. Her research draws on the discipline of economics to explore education policy questions concerning the efficiency, equity, and adequacy of U.S. public education, and her current work focuses on teachers as a critical resource in the education process. She is coeditor (with Chris Roellke) of Fiscal Policy in Urban Education and is author of Teacher Quality: Understanding the Effectiveness of Teacher Attributes, winner of the 2005 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education writing award. She is currently president of the American Education Finance Association.
  • Christopher Roellke
    Vassar College
    CHRISTOPHER ROELLKE is dean of studies and associate professor of education at Vassar. Previously, he was chair of the Department of Education at Vassar and visiting scholar at Yale Law School. His teaching and research interests are in the politics and economics of education, teacher education, and urban education reform. His doctoral dissertation earned national recognition from the American Educational Research Association, the Politics of Education Association, and the American Education Finance Association (AEFA). He is immediate past-president of AEFA.
  • Dina Sparks
    University of Maryland
    DINA SPARKS is a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy Studies at the University of Maryland. Her research interests include teacher recruitment and retention, the nature of teaching as a profession, and the organizational structure of U.S. public education.
  • Tammy Kolbe
    University of Maryland
    TAMMY KOLBE is an AERA-IES postdoctoral fellow located at the University of Maryland's Department of Education Policy Studies. Her research interests include teacher staffing policy and the distribution of teacher qualifications across and within states, districts, and schools.
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