Equitable Distribution: Alabama

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should publicly report districts' distribution of teacher talent among schools to identify inequities in schools serving disadvantaged children.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Equitable Distribution: Alabama results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AL-Equitable-Distribution-8

Analysis of Alabama's policies

Providing comprehensive reporting may be the state's most important role for ensuring the equitable distribution of teachers among schools. Alabama does not report school-level data that can help support the equitable distribution of teacher talent among schools within districts.

Alabama does not collect or publicly report any of the data recommended by NCTQ. The state lacks a school-level teacher quality index that indicates the academic backgrounds of a school's teachers as well as the ratio of new to veteran teachers. Alabama also does not report on teacher absenteeism or turnover rates.

Alabama does report on the percentage of highly qualified teachers. However, these data are reported by district rather than at the school-level. Alabama also reports on the percentage of teachers on alternative or emergency credentials. However, these data are reported statewide rather than at the school level. The state is commended for comparing the average percentage of highly qualified teachers at high- and low-poverty schools.


Recommendations for Alabama

Use a teacher quality index to report publicly about each school.
A teacher quality index, such as the one developed by the Illinois Education Research Council, with data including teachers' average SAT or ACT scores, the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure tests at least once, the selectivity of teachers' undergraduate colleges and the percentage of new teachers, can shine a light on how equitably teachers are distributed both across and within districts. Alabama should ensure that individual school report cards include such data in a manner that translates these factors into something easily understood by the public, such as a color-coded matrix indicating a school's high or low score.

Publish other data that facilitate comparisons across schools.
Alabama should collect and report other school-level data that reflect the stability of a school's faculty, including the rates of teacher absenteeism and turnover.

Provide comparative data based on school demographics.
As Alabama does with highly qualified teachers, the state should provide comparative data for schools with similar poverty and minority populations. The would yield a more comprehensive picture of gaps in the equitable distribution of teachers.

Report data at the school level.
Alabama should ensure that it is reporting all currently collected data at the school-level, rather than aggregated by district.

Ensure that data are current.
It is important to keep data updated and current in order to provide the public with an accurate picture of teacher distribution across schools in districts. Alabama should update the data it reports on the percentage of highly qualified teachers at the school level, as the state has not done so since 2006-2007.

State response to our analysis

Alabama noted that the state collects and reports what it is required to report. To the U.S. Department of Education's Education Data Exchange Network (EDEN), the state reports school data on highly qualified teachers. More publicly, every Alabama teacher's highly qualified status is available for viewing via the Teach Alabama / Teach in Alabama portal.

Alabama pointed out that school report cards are published on the Alabama Department of Education website. The school report cards reflect the percentage of teachers by level of certificate and the percentage of teachers holding an Emergency Certificate. The report also includes the percentage of classes taught by non-HQ teachers by school system. Alabama does not currently collect data on teacher absenteeism.

The state commented that it is building a teacher effectiveness reporting tool, as required under the U.S Department of Education State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) grant. This will be expanded to include components such as: student performance measures, percentage of new teachers, teacher turn-over rates, the institutions from which teachers graduated and whether teachers completed traditional or alternative approaches to earning a certificate. However, Alabama will delay making a decision about what items to report publicly until ESEA is reauthorized.

Alabama added that although NCTQ suggests that it publish the percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure tests at least once, only teachers employed on the basis of holding a one-year, non-renewable Emergency Certificate are not required to meet test requirements before receiving a certificate.

Last word

NCTQ encourages Alabama to consider additional ways to provide the public with meaningful data about teacher distribution. While it is no doubt helpful to the public to be able to see the HQT status of individual teachers, the public—and policymakers—cannot see whether high-needs schools have a disproportionate share of such teachers.

Research rationale

For comprehensive review of the literature on teacher quality and distribution, see Jennifer Rice King, "The Impact of Teacher Experience: Examining the Evidence and Policy Implications" CALDER: Urban Institute (August 2010). For more about how poor and minority children do not get their fair share of high-quality teachers, read L. Feng and T. Sass, "Teacher Quality and Teacher Mobility." National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (2011); T. Sass et al, "Value Added of Teachers in High-Poverty Schools and Lower-Poverty Schools." CALDER Institute (2010); and Education Trust, Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Children are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality (Washington, DC: Education Trust, 2006).

Education Trust also produced an analysis of the first set of state Equity Plans that pointed out the inadequacies of most states' data systems to produce reliable information about teacher qualifications and experience levels in schools disaggregated by poverty and racial composition of schools. Although almost all states were required to resubmit their plans and earned approval for them, many of the shortcomings of state data systems remained. For example, few states are equipped to identify by school, teachers' years of experience, meaning they cannot identify the ratio of new teachers to the full school staff. See Education Trust, Missing the Mark: An Education Trust Analysis of Teacher-Equity Plans (Washington, DC: Education Trust, 2006).

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).