NEPC Review: Back to the Staffing Surge: The Great Teacher Salary Stagnation and the Decades-Long Employment Growth in American Public Schools (EdChoice, May 2017)
A report from EdChoice documents two staffing trends in public schools. After a temporary pause during the Great Recession, school staffing in the U.S. resumed an upward trajectory, and hiring tilted toward non-teaching personnel as compared to teachers. The report concludes that staffing growth outpaces enrollment growth and that there has been no corresponding increase in student performance. The report then recommends increasing teacher pay, at the expense of non-teaching staff, and school choice. While the data on staffing trends are obtained from NCES publications, the report’s discussion of inputs, outcomes, and policy approaches is poorly grounded, leading to unsupported conclusions and policy prescriptions. It does not 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, and it fails to acknowledge that educational outcomes have steadily improved, even though any benefits of staffing increases will be lagged and only show up gradually over time. The report presents no logical relationship between staffing trends and the solutions proposed. As a result, the report is irrelevant and is devoid of any important policy implications.