Certain studies and the California legislature have recently concluded that seniority preference rules in teacher collective bargaining agreements facilitate a teacher ‘quality gap’ by permitting senior teachers to transfer to schools with higher-performing and more affluent children. This study examines the effects of such transfer rules on the distribution of teachers among and within school districts in California. The study finds that, when comparing California districts to each other, strong seniority preference rules are associated with a greater percentage of credentialed teachers in school districts. Employing hierarchical linear modeling, the study then finds that schools with higher percentages of minority students, within districts, have lower percentages of credentialed and experienced teachers. Contrary to certain previous research and conventional wisdom, however, this study finds no persuasive evidence that the seniority preference rules independently affect the distribution of teachers among schools or exacerbate the negative relationship between higher minority schools and uncredentialed and low-experience teachers.

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