Because disparity in teaching quality is a major factor in why many low-performing high schools have trouble improving the achievement and attainment of students, more high-quality teachers need to be teaching disadvantaged students, according to a new brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education.
Improving the Distribution of Teachers in Low-Performing High Schools, made possible with the support of MetLife Foundation, looks at the inequitable distribution of high-quality teachers, who tend to primarily serve students in schools with greater financial resources, fewer low-income students, safer working conditions, higher student achievement levels, and fewer students of color.
“Low-performing high schools are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Higher-quality teachers tend to teach at higher-performing schools. Ideally we need to make sure that every teacher is high-quality, but unless we get more high-quality teachers in front of more low-performing students, achievement gaps will continue to grow. If every classroom in the nation is led by an excellent teacher, every child in America will get an excellent education.”
Defining poor-quality teaching as a lack of experience, qualifications, and effectiveness, the Alliance’s new brief reviews the dynamics of the teacher labor market (inadequate supply of candidates, lackluster recruitment, cumbersome hiring processes, unappealing working conditions). The brief goes on to examine how better teacher preparation and quality alternate routes can increase the supply of effective teachers. Recruitment challenges can be addressed through targeting pay and streamlining hiring practices. Finally, high-quality teacher retention in low-performing high schools can be accomplished by improving working conditions, providing a combination of supports, professional development, and evaluation during the early teaching years, and ensuring career advancement opportunities for veteran teachers.
Improving the Distribution of Teachers in Low-Performing High Schools concludes that there is an important role for the federal government in balancing the distribution of high-quality teachers. Policy recommendations include building and using statewide longitudinal data systems, strengthening teacher preparation, ensuring equity in teacher quality, and maximizing federal dollars.
Improving the Distribution of Teachers in Low-Performing High Schools is available here
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MetLife Foundation was founded in 1976 and supports programs that increase opportunities for young people to succeed, give students and teachers a voice in improving education, create connections between schools and communities, and strengthen relationships among parents, teachers, and students. For more information about MetLife Foundation, please visit: www.metlife.org.
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.org.