Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Changing grades

Here’s an interesting factoid: teachers change the grade they teach fairly often.
Ben Ost has put together data on North Carolina primary school teachers. In this table that Ost created, the first column is the teacher’s grade this year. Moving across the row we see what fraction of teachers were teaching in a given grade the following year. For example, just over 80 percent of 4th grade teachers stick with 4th grade the following year. Five percent switch to 3rd grade and seven percent switch to 6th. Overall, about 15 to 20 percent of teachers switch grades in a given year.

Ost Table 2Ost also asks how many of a teacher’s years on the job are in the grade level currently being taught. In this next table, the leftmost column tells the total years on the job and the rows tell what fraction of teachers have had a given number of years in the current grade. For example, among teachers with five years total experience, 45 percent of the teachers have spent their entire career teaching at the current grade level. Just under 12 percent are teaching the current grade for the first time.

Ost Table 3Ost’s evidence demonstrates that many teachers move grades quite a bit. In the author’s words

…teachers switch grade assignments frequently within a school such that less than half remain in the same grade in their first five years.

Two notes on the data. First, the second table is restricted to teachers in their first school. So any switching was within a school, not part of changing schools. Second, teaching histories in the available data only goes back a limited number of years, so the tables exclude the most highly experienced teachers.

Next time: What Ost found about the effect on student outcomes of grade-specific versus overall teaching experience.

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