How to Keep Good Teachers in New York's Urban Schools? Two UAlbany
Researchers Newly Funded to Find a Way
Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985
Attracting and retaining high quality teachers is a concern for any
school, but particularly when that school is low-performing. Now, two
UAlbany researchers equipped with nearly $1 million in new grants are
expanding their earlier research on teacher labor-force quality in order
to find ways to keep high quality teachers in New York.
James Wyckoff, associate professor of public administration and policy,
and Hamilton Lankford, associate professor of economics, will examine
the career paths of New York teachers and reasons for the career decisions
they make along the way. The researchers' aim is to discover which strategies
would be most effective in attracting and retaining more high quality
New grants to Wyckoff and Lankford consist of a $595,000 award from
the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and
Improvement (OERI), a $205,000 grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation,
and a $132,000 award from the New York State Department of Education
(NYSDOE) and the Rand Corporation. Added to past funding from NYSDOE,
it brings total support for the Wyckoff-Lankford studies to more than
The new efforts will build on the report the two researchers issued
in November 2000, "The Labor Market for Public School Teachers: A Descriptive
Analysis of New York State's Teacher Workforce." In it, the researchers
examined 30 years worth of state teaching records and documented the
disparity of teacher quality among New York's public schools, with particular
focus on the quality of teachers in the state's most needy schools.
UAlbany President Karen Hitchcock said the studies "are another example
of the power of University at Albany scholarship and research to address
critical societal issues. Professors Wyckoff and Lankford have already
monitored the pulse of teaching in New York State and now will work
toward the ultimate goal of improving New York's teaching force."
The earlier study on New York's teacher workforce found teacher quality
to be much worse in urban areas, where teachers with no prior experience
and with fewer qualifications make up an increasing proportion of new
hires. It also stated that black and Latino students in urban areas
are more likely to have lower quality teachers than typical white or
"There's not going to be any silver bullet, because various factors
affect the choices made by teachers," said Wyckoff in reference to the
prospects of developing policy. "It's likely there are a lot of different
things that can be done, and they all should be considered."
The next round of studies will examine questions such as what factors
determine why college students decide to pursue education careers, where
educators choose to teach, why they transfer from certain schools and
districts, and why they decide to quit.
"Many issues affect these decisions, including student demographics
and community composition, salary, class size, and professional development
opportunities, as well as the economy and labor market in general,"
Lankford said. "These studies are academically important, but at the
same time, the findings will be very relevant to current policy issues."
"There are important gaps in our understanding of how to attract and
retain high quality teachers," added Wyckoff. "Unless we can understand
what influences teachers' choices, policies may not achieve their intended
The UAlbany team - including three graduate students - will collaborate
on the studies with Donald Boyd, director of the Fiscal Studies Program
at the Rockefeller Institute, and Susanna Loeb, assistant professor
of Education at Stanford University.
For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web
site at http://www.Albany.edu.
March 15, 2001
NOTE: Lankford and Wyckoff's report "The Labor Market for Public
School Teachers: A Descriptive Analysis of New York State's Teacher
Workforce." is available at the Education Finance Research Consortium
University at Albany Home Page
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