Date of Award

Fall 10-15-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Tim Sass


This dissertation studies teacher hiring practices, an avenue to potentially raise teacher quality which has not been studied extensively. I analyze three aspects of the teacher hiring process, which, if improved, could promote education quality: the principal hiring decision, the teacher application decision, and the effects of information on teacher behavior and market outcomes in the teacher labor market. The first two are empirical studies utilizing administrative data from an urban school district, and the last is a laboratory experiment.

Education is a labor focused enterprise where outcomes are largely determined by teacher quality, so hiring the most productive teachers is paramount. Hiring is even more important given that teaching is a high-turnover profession, thus hiring occurs frequently. I first compare the elements of a teacher’s application that predict principal hiring decisions to those predicting teacher performance and retention outcomes. Similar to other recent work, I find disparities between the two sets of predictors. I utilize additional methods to study the relation of the size and quality of the applicant pool, as well as how those factors relate to the quality of the selected candidate. The results indicate that the applicant pools do not systematically vary by school characteristics in an obvious manner. Also, while the quality of the candidate pool may influence principal hiring decisions, it is not the dominate factor.

Given that teaching sorting across schools occurs in the new-teacher labor market (Sass, et al. 2012) and in post-hire differential patterns of teacher mobility,[1] which in turn create disparities in access to effective teachers, it is important to understand the mechanisms that lead to teacher sorting across schools. In chapter 2, I study how teacher application behavior reveals teacher preferences over schools. The preferences can lead to differences in application pools, thereby affecting principals’ ability to hire quality candidates. I find that the application decisions of new-to-the-district candidates may be affected by accountability pressures or the resource level in high-needs schools, but current teachers’ revealed preferences agree with those previously found in the research literature.

It has also been found that a teacher’s compatibility with a school can affect their ability to improve student outcomes and their own satisfaction (which decreases mobility, thereby increasing experience and decreasing turnover costs). In my third chapter, I use a laboratory experiment to examine teacher and school behavior and their effects on outcomes in a controlled setting while varying the preference structure of the market and the information agents have on competitors’ actions. I find that information on competitor behavior affects signaling behavior and the market efficiency and payoffs, but that these effects are dependent on the preference structure. I also find that the preference structure affects the stability of the matches.

[1] Darling-Hammond, 2001; Viadero, 2002; Gordon & Maxey, 2000; Goldhaber et al., 2007; Feng & Sass, 2017