Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Christine H. Roch

Second Advisor

Barry T. Hirsch

Third Advisor

Gregory B. Lewis

Fourth Advisor

Ross Rubenstein

Fifth Advisor

Tim R. Sass


Enrollment in education programs has declined substantially in the U.S. over the last few decades, but little empirical evidence addresses the factors driving this decline. This dissertation examines two potential factors, whether government policies such as school accountability and teacher prep performance assessment have discouraged individuals from pursuing teaching as a career.

The first chapter introduces the dissertation and summarizes the key findings. The second chapter tests the effects of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on individuals’ decisions to enter the teaching profession. Opponents of NCLB, and of school accountability systems in general, argue that these systems undermine teaching as a stable and attractive career, discouraging individuals from becoming teachers. I examine whether NCLB has affected enrollment and degrees awarded in education programs. Using a Difference-in-Differences (DID) design, I compare enrollments and degrees awarded in education programs in states with accountability systems prior to NCLB to the same outcomes in states without prior accountability systems, before and after the introduction of NCLB. The results suggest that NCLB has had little or no effect on either enrollment or degrees awarded in education programs. However, NCLB significantly reduced minority enrollment in education programs by more than 3 percentage points.

The third chapter investigates whether imposing new performance assessment requirements on teacher candidates in education programs affects their college outcomes. Starting from September 2015, Georgia required all teacher candidates to pass a teacher performance assessment exam in order to be certified. This chapter examines whether these requirements affect students’ persistence in college, attrition from education programs, or the likelihood of graduating within four years. The findings indicate that teacher prep performance assessment has little or no impact on college outcomes of students in education programs relative to other students.

The fourth chapter examines the demographic characteristics and career paths of former teachers. I also explore the factors that affect former teachers’ decisions to return to teaching. Although former teachers represent an important source of teacher supply in the U.S., little attention has been paid to understanding the decisions of former teachers to re-enter teaching. Using restricted-use data that follows a cohort of new teachers for five years after starting their careers, I find that former teachers who work in large schools, high schools, and schools with large percentages of minority students are less likely to return to teaching after their initial exit. Teachers who left schools because of pregnancy or change in residence are more likely to re-enter the profession.