University of Vermont

College of Education and Social Sciences

Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Adrienne M. Capone: The Intricacies Of Public School Teacher Hiring Practices: Perspectives From Applicants, Employers, And School Contexts (2013-03-27)

Capone, Adrienne M. | 527 Waterman, Phi Beta Kappa Room | 2013-03-27 | 1:00 p.m.

Teachers can have a significant effect on students’ success in academics (Goe, Bell, & Little, 2008; Hanushek, Rivkin, Rothstein, & Podgursky, 2004; Harris & Sass, 2011; Rockoff, Jacob, Kane, & Stalger, 2011) making the hiring of a teacher a critical event in the quest for increased student achievement. In the last decade, research about teacher quality and teacher hiring has identified characteristics of the teacher labor market, including the background characteristics of college students that choose to enter the teaching profession, where they look for jobs, and in particular, the tendency of new teachers to self-sort into jobs where they are close to home or where they feel comfortable or familiar within the school’s social context (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005; Cannata, 2010). Recent scholarship has also shed light on how superintendents, principals, and other hiring officials search for and hire teachers.

This dissertation is a qualitative investigation of the hiring process in five New England secondary schools and includes narrative analysis of interviews with hiring officials and successful teacher candidates as well as content analysis of the job postings, candidate applications, and employer protocols for hiring. The research illuminates the variety of hiring mechanisms in secondary schools, including the school and location attributes that attract teaching candidates, school principals’ insights about candidates and their hiring decisions, and candidate perceptions of the hiring process. I argue that the strength of a local community plays a significant role in recruitment, and that helping applicants understand school context, including location, cultural climate, and a school’s vision for student learning may increase candidate quality and optimize the job-fit of potentially strong teachers. In addition, local policies and lack of incentives may frustrate the hiring potential of hard-to-staff schools. This research provides a close-up view of the teacher hiring process, illuminating the critical role of the employer’s actions in promoting a school’s qualities and the need for revision of practices and policies that inhibit the hiring of the best candidates.

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