Flawed Report Fails to Illuminate School Staffing Trends | National Education Policy Center

BOULDER, CO (July 5, 2017) – EdChoice recently released a report documenting two staffing trends in public schools. After a temporary pause during the Great Recession, school staffing in the U.S. resumed an upward trajectory, with hiring tilted toward non-teaching personnel compared to teachers.

Joydeep Roy of Columbia University and William J. Mathis of the University of Colorado Boulder reviewedBack to the Staffing Surge: The Great Teacher Salary Stagnation and the Decades-Long Employment Growth in American Public Schools.

The report concludes that staffing growth outpaces enrollment growth and that there has been no corresponding increase in student performance. While the data on staffing trends are obtained from reliable NCES publications, the report’s discussion of inputs and outcomes is poorly grounded, lacking an adequate understanding and appreciation of the diverse roles that non-teachers play in our nation’s schools. It also refrains from applying the same analysis to private schools, leading to unsupported conclusions and policy prescriptions.

Roy and Mathis also note that the report fails to examine why there has been a staffing surge or whether it reflects a valid use of personnel. It evaluates the effectiveness of school staffing changes using concurrent achievement and finance measures, even though any benefits of staffing increases will be lagged and only show up gradually over time. Moreover, the report fails to acknowledge that educational outcomes have steadily improved.

The report also provides insufficient support for its two recommendations: increasing teacher pay, at the expense of other instructional and non-instructional staff, and school choice. Under certain circumstances, these policies could be justified as supporting educational improvements, but this report simply presents them as if the justifications are self-evident and universally applicable, which they are not.

As a result, the reviewers conclude, the report is devoid of any important policy implications.

Find the review, by Joydeep Roy and William J. Mathis, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-staffing

Find Back to the Staffing Surge: The Great Teacher Salary Stagnation and the Decades-Long Employment Growth in American Public Schools, by Benjamin Scafidi, published by EdChoice, at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Back-to-the-Staffing-Surge-by-Ben-Scafidi.pdf

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

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