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Portfolios emerging in the hiring process, UI research finds

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- About one-half of K-12 schools in the United States looking to hire new teachers review portfolios submitted by applicants during the hiring process, according to a new survey led by University of Iowa researchers.

But fewer than 10 percent of districts nationwide require portfolios as part of the initial job application, according to the report, "Selecting Teachers for Tomorrow's Classrooms."

The study was conducted by Rebecca Anthony and Gerald Roe of the UI Educational Placement Office for the Educational Placement Consortium. The Consortium includes the Educational Placement Offices at the UI, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Indiana University.

Researchers surveyed 1,480 members of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) in spring 1996. The 46 percent who returned responses represent schools in 49 states and school populations as large as 650,000 students and as small as 100 students.

Researchers also surveyed 737 superintendents in two Midwestern states, receiving responses from 65 percent.

Nearly all respondents said they rely on traditional forms of application -- resume and cover letter, credential file, transcripts, proof of licensure, district application or other materials -- when asking for initial information from a prospective teacher.

Of the national personnel administrators, 6 percent said portfolios were required at application; 4 percent of Midwestern superintendents said they required portfolios at application, according to the report.

"Employers identified evidence of skills in communication, planning and delivering age-appropriate instruction and student work samples as important components of portfolios submitted by job-seekers," said Anthony.

Of the people involved in the hiring process, school principals are most likely to review candidate portfolios, the survey reports.

Among the survey's other findings:

-- Among national administrators, 52 percent of administrators requested or accepted portfolios only when candidates were finalists for teaching positions; among Midwestern superintendents, the figure is 58 percent.

-- Of schools with populations of fewer than 5,000 students, 98 percent required a resume and cover letter at the time of application; 95 percent required a credential file; 83 percent required proof of licensure; and 60 percent required a district-approved application.

-- Among members of the AASPA, 94 percent required a district-approved application when candidates expressed interest in a job; 91 percent required transcripts; 87 percent required proof of licensure; 72 percent required a credential file and 69 percent required a resume and cover letter.

"Because graduates of college and university teacher preparation programs pursue jobs in diverse settings, it is important for everyone involved in the teacher training and screening and selection stages -- from faculty members, career service professionals and school administrators -- to be aware of the differences and similarities of hiring practices in school districts coast to coast," the report said.

Copies of the full report are available from Educational Placement Consortium, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1000 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706.