In case you need more proof that poor kids have unequal access to the best teachers, IES has released another downer of a study courtesy of Mathematica. They looked at ten (unnamed) districts in seven states—focusing on elementary and middle schools within those districts—and used value-added data to assess teacher effectiveness, labeling the top 20 percent of teachers in each grade and subject as "highest quality." One district's poorest schools, for example, had only 5 percent of middle school math teacher designated as "highest quality." As the table below shows, high poverty middle schools in this particular district are much less likely to have high performing teachers than the district's more affluent schools.
Even when the results from the ten districts were pooled together, the disparities for middle schoolers attending high-poverty schools are stark:
- 12 percent of language arts teachers in the highest poverty middle schools were considered highest quality, compared to 32 percent in the lowest poverty schools.
- 15 percent of math teachers in the highest poverty middle schools were considered highest quality, compared to 29 percent in the lowest poverty schools.
Interestingly, these findings weren't consistent for elementary schools, but it is certainly important to note that 4 out of 8 districts looked at individually did have fewer "highest quality" teachers in their poorest elementary schools than in their wealthier counterparts.
There was one lone district whose poorest elementary schools had about three times as many great teachers as did its more affluent schools. It's unnamed like the rest, so who it is and what they're doing right is impossible to tell. But you can bet it's not happening by chance.