Merging California’s disconnected data sources to study recruitment, retention, and pathways to the teaching profession.

California’s efforts to improve its teaching workforce is constrained by sparse research on the State’s teacher preparation and support system. It is difficult to discern with any fidelity which aspects of programs lead to, for example, effective classroom teaching, higher retention in the profession, and a willingness to teach in underserved communities. This is partly due to the fact that unlike many states, California does not have a unified data system that allows for large-scale research on pathways into and through the teaching profession. In February 2016, the California Legislative Analysts Office reported on the “significant drawbacks of having no California teacher database.” The LAO’s report noted that “the state does not have reliable data on the retention rates of intern-prepared teachers compared to traditionally prepared teachers, nor does the state have data on the retention rates of its special education teachers relative to STEM teachers or these teachers relative to other teachers.” Compounding matters, no other state has as culturally and linguistically diverse a student population as California, where it is essential that teachers be effective in educating the full range of students. Hence, national data sources have limited relevance. It is vital we conduct research involving students and teachers in California.

To this end, CTERIN is working with national advisors and the UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) to build an effective data system that utilizes data from several related but disconnected databases. Initial efforts are aimed at connecting data from the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). ​In future, the data system could include additional variables in response to stakeholder questions.