Assistant Professor Emily Penner has been named a 2018 National Academy of Education Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. She, and Assistant Professor Di Xu who also has been named a 2018 Fellow, are among the 30 selected nationwide for this prestigious honor.
Dr. Penner's study is titled "Before & After School: Using Administrative Records to Support Teacher Recruitment & Retention."
Teacher turnover costs districts across the country $2.2 billion annually, costs which are disproportionately borne by districts serving low-income students. Moreover, turnover negatively affects school climate and harms student achievement. Using novel school-district human resource data linked with IRS records, I provide policy-relevant insights into how districts can address turnover. These data include teachers from a large urban district and an entire state in the Western United States, allowing for an investigation of the dynamics of turnover in both high cost-of-living urban areas and rural school districts over the past fifteen years. I first examine the economic and residential transitions of former teachers. This will help districts understand whether teachers leave for better economic opportunities, particularly in high-cost, urban and remote, rural areas. To better understand teacher mobility, I also consider the role that residential relocation, housing costs, and partner/spouse job changes play in these transitions. I also use machine learning techniques to code unique applicant essay data to examine whether applicants who express particular attitudes are more likely to remain teachers for longer. This study will help school districts across the country better target their limited resources at more effective recruitment and retention strategies.
Dr. Penner's research focuses on educational inequality and K-12 education policy, and considers the ways that districts, schools, and teachers can contribute to or ameliorate educational inequality. She is currently involved in projects examining teacher recruitment and retention in constrained labor and housing markets, how school sorting processes affect student opportunities to learn, and how educator-initiated curricula that center the cultural and historical experiences of traditionally marginalized students impact student outcomes [from https://naeducation.org/2018-naed-spencer-postdoctoral-fellows/].