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Mix and Match: What Principals Really Look for When Hiring Teachers

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Author Info

  • Douglas N. Harris

    ()
    (Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

  • Stacey A. Rutledge

    ()
    (Educational Leadership and Policy, College of Education, Florida State University)

  • William K. Ingle

    ()
    (Leadership and Policy, Bowling Green State University)

  • Cynthia C. Thompson

    ()
    (Educational Leadership and Policy, College of Education, Florida State University)

Abstract

The vast majority of research and policy related to teacher quality focuses on the supply of teachers and ignores teacher demand. In particular, the important role of school principals in hiring teachers is rarely considered. Using interviews of school principals in a midsized Florida school district, we provide an exploratory mixed methods analysis of the teacher characteristics principals prefer. Our findings contradict the conventional wisdom that principals undervalue content knowledge and intelligence. Principals in our study ranked content knowledge third among a list of twelve characteristics. Intelligence does appear less important at first glance, but this is apparently because principals believe all applicants who meet certification requirements meet a minimum threshold on intelligence and because some intelligent teachers have difficulty connecting with students. More generally, we find that principals prefer an “individual mix” of personal and professional qualities. They also create an “organizational mix,” hiring teachers who differ from those already in the school in terms of race, gender, experience, and skills, and an “organizational match,” in which teachers have similar work habits and a high propensity to remain with the school over time. Because of tenure rules, many principals also prefer less experienced (untenured) teachers, even though research suggests that they are less effective. © 2010 American Education Finance Association

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/edfp.2010.5.2.5205
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Education Finance and Policy.

Volume (Year): 5 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 228-246

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:5:y:2010:i:2:p:228-246

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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Related research

Keywords: teacher hiring; teacher demand; teacher characteristics;

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Cited by:
  1. Tara Béteille & Demetra Kalogrides & Susanna Loeb, 2011. "Stepping Stones: Principal Career Paths and School Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 17243, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Harris, Douglas N. & Sass, Tim R., 2014. "Skills, productivity and the evaluation of teacher performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 183-204.

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