White Paper No. 1 - A War on Teachers? Labor Market Responses to Statewide Reform
We examine the effect of Michigan’s 2011 reforms to teacher evaluation and tenure
policies on teacher retention. Our data are drawn from administrative records
containing the population of public school employees from 2005-06 through 2015-16.
Our difference-in-differences identification strategy exploits the plausibly exogenous
timing of pre-reform CBA contract expiration dates that governed when teachers were
exposed to the reforms to isolate the causal effect of reforms on the probability that a
teacher permanently exits Michigan’s traditional public schools. We find that, on
average, Michigan’s teacher accountability reforms had little impact on teacher
attrition. However, further analyses provide strong evidence that teachers assigned to
hard-to-staff districts (proxied by poverty rates, student performance and dropout
rates) were more likely to exit post reform, as well as evidence that pre-tenure teachers
were also disproportionately affected. Thus, our results suggest that although more
teachers exited Michigan’s schools post reform, teacher-specific reforms alone may
have had little impact on overall teacher attrition, and policymakers must consider
differential impacts based on experience and teaching location.