This Issue Paper is part of a series of thought provoking essays published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and distributed to the Executive Branch, General Assembly, media and other leaders in Virginia.
These Issue Papers cover important topics of the day and focus attention on creative and workable alternatives to current public policy issues. The ideas presented in this on-going series are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy or its Board of Directors.
This particular Issue Papers entitled, “ 2000 New Teachers – Where Are They Needed Most? ” is part of four education-oriented essays that will be published over the next few weeks. The author, David Wheat, wrote the much-talked-about study for the Thomas Jefferson Institute, “Understanding Virginia’s Report Card- Why Standardized Test Scores Vary from One Community to Another
Other studies and Issue Papers published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy include:
A Tax Reform Agenda for Virginia
A Brief Review of the Fairfax County Budget for Fiscal Year ‘98
Public Education in Virginia: Challenges and Opportunities
Vision 2001: VirginiaJs Transportation System for the New Millennium
Environmental Policy: Moving from “Needs” to “Wants”
Understanding Virginia’s Report Card
Downsizing State Government – Doing Better With Less
Compensation of Campus Faculty – How Virginia Compares Within the Region
These studies can be ordered from the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Please call or write this foundation if you would like a copy.
Michael Thompson Chairman and President February 1998
This Issue Paper is published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. The ideas presented are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this foundation or its Board of Directors. Nothing in this paper should be construed as an
attempt to hinder or aid legislation.
2000 New Teachers: Where Are They Needed Most?
An Issue Paper Prepared by
In January 1998, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore proposed a budget amendment that would provide state funding for 56 percent of the cost of placing about 2000 additional teachers in public elementary classrooms over a two-year period, beginning with the 1998-99 school year. The Governor’s plan would distribute the additional teachers proportionally among all school divisions in the state on the basis of student enrollments. One effect of the Governor’s proposal would be to lower pupil/teacher ratios in elementary classrooms below 17 to 1 statewide, compared to the current ratio of about 18 to 1.
Recent research supports the conventional wisdom that students’ academic achievement improves in classrooms where teachers have fewer students to teach. Thus, the Governor’s proposal should have a positive impact on student performance. However, the magnitude of that impact will be diluted by a proportional distribution approach that causes some of the additional teachers to be assigned to school divisions where pupil-teacher ratios are already low.
An alternative distribution method is the targeted approach. It would target about half of the school divisions-those having the highest elementary pupil-teacher ratios—and fund enough teaching positions in those school divisions to lower their average class size to 17.5 students. It is estimated that the targeted approach would require about 500 fewer teachers, cost $21.5 million less, and raise statewide student performance 15 percent higher than the proportional approach.
Thus, on the basis of efficiency alone, the targeted distribution of new teachers is preferable. However, there are legitimate equity considerations that lend support to the proportional plan or to some compromise version of it. Making tradeoffs between efficiency and equity is inevitable in the process of making public policy. The goal of this issue paper is to clarify the magnitude of this particular tradeoff for those interested in education policy making in Virginia, including those executive and legislative officials currently involved in that process.
|Number ofSchool Divisions||2-4||Number c5-9||>f Teacher10-19||s to be Ad20-29||ded to a 530-39||School Div40-49||ision50-99||100+|
|Number of Teachers||2012||1502||2000|
|% of School Divisions||100%||46%||100%|
|Total Cost||$82.6 million||$61.1 million||$82.0 million|
|State Share||$46.4 million||$37.8 million||$48.5 million|
|Local Share||$36.2 million||$23.3 million||$33.5 million|
|Student Performance Index*||6700||7700||8200|
|Cost Per Unit of Increase inStudent Performance Index||$12,330||$7,940||$10,000|
|‘Additional students scoring above national average on standardized tests|
About the Author
I. David Wheat, Jr. is a strategic planning consultant and the author of Understanding Virginia’s Report Card: Why Standardized Test Scores Vary from One Community to Another, published in 1997 by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.*
He is president of Wheat Resources, Inc., a consulting firm established in 1981 that specializes in helping clients organize and analyze data they use in making strategic decisions. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1972, and then served three years as a White House staff assistant specializing in economic and energy issues. Later, at the University of Houston, he served as Director of Federal Relations and designed and taught a graduate course on public policy implementation.
His education policy consulting work is enhanced by several years of nationally recognized classroom instruction experience in Virginia public schools, as well as by service on the Governor’s Commission on Champion Schools, where he participated in the upgrading of the history and social science Standards of Learning for Virginia’s students. He also teaches political science at Virginia Western Community College.
♦Copies available from the author (540-966-5939) or the Jefferson Institute (703-690-9447).
|divisionestK-5 p/tproportionaltargetedcomp.divisionestK-5 p/tproportionaltargetedcomp-Richmond City23.252190190Washington18.31288Powhatan21.471414Amelia18.2322Prince William21.185221221Gloucester18.21277Tazewell21.0123333Hampton18.2432525York21.0194848Scott18.2744Manassas Park20.8488Westmoreland18.2422Botetourt20.591717Campbell18.11377Portsmouth20.4377474Carroll18.1833Chesterfield20.389188188Louisa18.1844New Kent20.3588Poquoson18.1422Chesapeake20.264130130Pulaski18.1944Prince George20.192020Culpeper18.01144Lunenburg19.9477Northumberland18.0311Amherst19.681414King William17.9411Appomattox19.6477Richmond17.9211Prince Edward19.3577Arlington17.83988Isle of Wight19.391212Giles17.8411Hanover19.2273434Nottoway17.8511Mathews19.2333Williamsburg*17.81544Lynchburg19.1192121Danville17.71533Stafford19.0343535Hopewell17.7711Galax18.9322Loudoun17.74877Dinwiddie18.8877Pittsylvania17.71633Virginia Beach18.8133144144Sussex17.7311Wise18.8111313Clarke17.6411Wythe18.8888Franklin City17.6411Warren18.7888Lee17.6811Petersburg18.6121111Rockbridge17.6511Spotsylvania18.5322222Accomack17.51006Henry18.4151212Madison17.5402Henrico18.3744545Charlotte17.4402Shenandoah18.3966Greene17.4• 503Suffolk18.3211212Augusta17.319011‘includes James City County, -includes Fairfax City, includes Emporia, ^includes Bedford City. #indudes Clifton Forge.||divisionestK-5 p/tproportionaltargetedcomp.divisionestK-5 p/tproportionaltargetedcomp.Caroline17.3704Page16.4704Essex17.3302Franklin16.31207Lancaster17.3302Grayson16.3503Norfolk17.367040Middlesex16.3302Fairfax-17.22420144Montgomery16.318011Greensville”17.2503Nelson16.3402Rockingham17.219011Staunton16.2503Bedford+17.119011Salem16.1704Manassas17.11207Bristol16.0503Frederick17.017010Falls Church16.0302Smyth17.0905Russel!16.0704Halifax16.91308Rappahannock15.9302Mecklenburg16.9905Alleghany HighJ15.6604Bland16.8302Harrisonburg15.4704Fredericksburg16.8503Surry15.4302Newport News16.855033Colonial Heights15.3503Roanoke16.824014Goochland15.2402Roanoke City16.828017Buchanan14.6704Buckingham16.7503Fluvanna14.6503Norton16.7201Waynesboro14.6503Brunswick16.7503Colonial Beach14.4201Charles City16.7201Cumberland14.4302Patrick16.7503Radford14.4302Southampton16.7503Northampton14.2402Albemarle16.623014Alexandria14.121012Dickenson16.6503Charlottesville13.6805King George16.6503Martinsville13.6503West Point16.6201Orange13.5704Floyd16.5402Covington13.1201Buena Vista16.4302Bath13.0201Craig16.4201King and Queen12.5302Fauquier16.417010Winchester12.4503Highland16.4201Lexington11.8201Statewide18.0201215022000|
First data column contains estimated pupil-teacher ratio in grades K-5 in 1996.
Second and third data columns contain number of additional teachers under the proportional and targeted methods, respectively.
Fourth data column contains a compromise method: targeted approach for divisions with ratios above 17.5 (1502 teachers) and proportional distribution of 498 teachers to the remainder of the school divisions.
2000 New Teachers: Where Are They Needed Most? I. David Wheat, Jr.
An Issue Paper Prepared for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
1 To be precise, the total number of new teachers is estimated to be 2012 (509 in the first year and an additional 1503 in the second year). The state’s share of the cost varies from one school division to another, according to a composite index that is intended to reflect each locality’s “ability to pay.” The state share ranges from a high of 75-80 percent in some localities to a low of 20 percent in others. Superintendent’s Memo No. 15 (January 29, 1998), Department of Education, Attachment D.
2 Attachment D, Superintendent’s Memo No. 15.
3 Most school divisions in Virginia have adopted an elementary school program that includes grades K-5, and have moved 6th graders to the “middle school.” Pupil-teacher ratio data, however, continue to be reported on the basis of grades K-6. The published estimate of the pupils per teacher in grades K-6 for 1996 was 18.7 (Superintendent’s Annual Report, Department of Educations 995-96). Removing the 6th grade data from that estimate would probably reduce the number of pupils per teacher in the remaining grades (K-5) close to 18, given the state requirement for lower pupil-teacher ratios in the 1st grade.
4 Assuming 18 pupils per teacher and estimating the K-5 average daily membership (ADM) to be 517, 389 in 1996, then the estimated number of classroom teachers in grades K-5 would have been about 28,744 in that year. Adding 2012 to that number would equal 30,756 teachers. Dividing the K-5 ADM by the total number of teachers equals 16.8 pupils per teacher. Source : Superintendent’s Annual Report, 1995-96.
5 What is “optimal” depends on the grade level and the subjects being taught. My own experience is based on having taught 6th, 7th, 8th, and 12th graders in public schools, as well as both undergraduates and graduate students at the college level. In middle school grades, the optimal threshold seemed to be about 18 students per class, while it was about 22 for a class of high school seniors. A college class of 40 students is usually no more difficult to teach than one of 20 (except for the burden of grading that many additional writing assignments). My wife’s experience as a 1st grade teacher suggests that the maximum size for a 1st grade class size is 16 or 17 pupils. R.F. Ferguson provides evidence in his study of the effects of class size on test scores in Texas schools, where he identified a threshold of 18 for elementary grade classes. Class sizes above 18 had proportionally lower test scores, while classes smaller than 18 did not produce higher scores. “Paying for Public Education: New Evidence on How and Why Money Matters,” Harvard Journal on Legislation (1991), p. 477.
6 Understanding Virginia’s Report Card: Why Standardized Test Scores Vary from One Community to Another, I. David Wheat, Jr. (Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, 1997), page 20.
7 I kept lowering the experimental threshold by .5 pupils per teacher until l reached the lowest pupil-teacher ratio that was still statistically significant above the threshold, and that proved to be 17.5 pupils per teacher in grades K-5. [For the technically oriented reader: The “t value” for the pupil-teacher ratio regression coefficient was negative 2.038 (probability of chance occurrence being .044) when only those school divisions with elementary pupil-teacher ratios exceeding 17.5 to 1 were analyzed. When those school divisions with elementary pupil-teacher ratios equal to or below 17.5 to 1 were analyzed, the “t value” for the regression coefficient was negative 0.415 (probability level: .685).] Any reader (technically oriented or not) is invited to contact the author (540-966-5939) for further explanation of these results.
8 See Understanding Virginia’s Report Card, p. 21. The regression coefficient derived for the threshold was -.718 for ratios above 17.5. Rather than assume no benefits at all at ratios below 17.5,1 reduced the estimated impact by 75% for ratios between 17.5 and 15.5, and by 88% for ratios below 15.5.
9 Ibid. Sixty-one school divisions would gain 1502 teachers, and the remainder would get none.
10 Ibid. Approximately 8200 additional students would score above the national average on standardized tests with the pupil-teacher ratios that would be achieved by the compromise method.