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The first step in addressing the distribution of teachers is bringing transparency to the issue. States generally report little more than what is required by No Child Left Behind, which highlights years of experience and HQT status. However, while teaching experience matters, the benefits of experience are largely accumulated within the first few years of teaching. School districts that try to equalize experience among all schools are overestimating its impact. There is no reason why a school with many teachers with only three or five years' experience cannot outperform a school with teachers who have an average of more than 10 years' experience.
For this reason, states need to report data that are more informative about a school's teachers. States can accomplish this by using an index for quantifying important teacher credentials found to correlate with student achievement. A good example of a strong index is the academic capital index developed by the Illinois Education Research Council, incorporating teachers' average SAT or ACT scores; the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure test at least once; the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials; average selectivity of teachers' undergraduate colleges and the percentage of new teachers. These factors are complicated, so the state should install a system that translates them into something more easily understood, such as a color-coded matrix indicating a high or low score for a school.
States need to report data at the level of the individual school.
Only by achieving greater stability in the staffing of individual schools can districts achieve the nation's goal of more equitable distribution of teacher quality. A strong reporting system reflecting the index described above, as well as data on teacher attrition, teacher absenteeism and teacher credentials can lend much-needed transparency to those factors that contribute to staffing instability and inequity.
For an example of a teacher quality index, see White, Bradford R.; Presley, Jennifer and DeAngelis, Karen J. Leveling Up: Narrowing the Teacher Academic Capital Gap in Illinois. Illinois Education Research Council: IERC 2008-1 http://ierc.siue.edu/documents/IERC2008-1.pdf.
For more about teachers' effectiveness in the early years of teaching, see Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job by Robert Gordon, Thomas J. Kane, and Douglas O. Staiger at: The Hamilton Project, http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/200604hamilton_1.pdf (2009);
See also Jennifer Rice King, Teacher Quality: Understanding the Effectiveness of Teacher Attributes (Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, 2003).