TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

Lose-lose: New teacher assignments

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We all know that new teachers are more apt to get handed the toughest classrooms, a double whammy on student growth (where it's most needed) and teacher attrition rates. What's not as clear is what we mean by toughest assignments.

Katharine Strunk, Paul Bruno, and Sarah Rabovsky (with CALDER) examine this question, looking at how the job assignments of novice teachers differ from those of more experienced teachers in LAUSD.

It's not that new teachers in LA were handed much bigger class sizes or more preps or even more students with special needs. In fact, new teachers at the secondary level were given smaller class sizes and fewer preps than their veteran colleagues.

What was occurring was that new teachers were assigned to students who had lower achievement on tests, lower GPAs, lower subject area achievement, and slightly higher suspension rates.

Consistent with previous findings, half of the difference between new and veteran teacher assignments could be explained by the overall sorting of new teachers into lower-performing schools.

The students who need to make up the most academic ground are however those most in need of experienced and effective teachers. If districts and schools can't find a way to end this practice, equity goals will remain elusive.