Ideas & Innovations

Missed Opportunities: 10-Year Anniversary

November 18, 2013

Missed Opportunities: 10-Year Anniversary


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It's been 10 years since TNTP published its first-ever research and policy report, Missed Opportunities. At that time, teacher shortages in urban districts were assumed to be caused by a dearth of qualified applicants.

But as we worked in district offices, we discovered that was not true.

Teacher hiring is one of the most important instructional decisions a school can make, yet district staffing systems were impossibly dysfunctional. Applicants were treated poorly, hiring took months and offers sometimes arrived the same week school began.

Missed Opportunities put data behind that problem. We investigated teacher-hiring patterns in four districts and found that urban schools could attract plenty of serious, highly qualified applicants. The problem was that they lost 30-60 percent of them due to hiring delays caused by a tangle of inefficient policies and practices.

We also found that there were things districts could do right away to hire their best-qualified candidates long before the school year began. Many districts adopted our recommended reforms. Ten years later, in districts like Memphis and Washington, D.C., schools now start the year with strong teams in place, and student achievement is improving.

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