Attaining Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers in Public Schools

High-quality teachers are distributed across schools in patterns that resemble life in the desert, fleeing harsh terrain for soothing oases, fleeing poorer schools for more affluent. This report from the Center for American Progress analyzes the policies that regulate the equitable distribution of teachers and recommends policy changes that could lead some teachers to choose the more challenging environments for themselves. First, the researchers reaffirmed that despite the many equity-promoting provisions of NCLB, disparities in teacher quality persist: experienced, effective teachers, who hold at least some the keys to closing student achievement gaps, are disproportionately absent from low-income and minority schools. CAP recommends that states and districts develop systems that link teacher-effectiveness data to pupil achievement in order to identify high-quality instructors and track teacher movement. With that information, states and districts can tackle the distribution challenge by altering school-finance disparities and making sure that effective teachers receive proper compensation at all schools. The federal government should monitor that data and hold states accountable for their teacher distribution policies. Though the author of this report emphasizes the need for bold changes, she objects to heavy-handed approaches like forced teacher relocation. Instead, states and districts should work on incentives and transparency, developing rewards and job supports that will foster a positive work environment and encourage growth among all teachers.

SOURCE: Glenda L. Partee, Attaining Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers in Public Schools (Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, April 2014).

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