Equitable Distribution: Georgia

2011 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Equitable Distribution: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Equitable-Distribution-8

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Providing comprehensive reporting may be the state's most important role for ensuring the equitable distribution of teachers among schools. Georgia reports little school-level data that can help support the equitable distribution of teacher talent.

Georgia does not collect or publicly report most of the data recommended by NCTQ. The state does not provide a school-level teacher quality index that demonstrates the academic backgrounds of a school's teachers and the ratio of new to veteran teachers. Georgia also does not report on teacher absenteeism or turnover rates.

The state reports on the percentage of teachers on emergency credentials, the average years of teacher experience and the percentage of highly qualified teachers. Commendably, these data are reported for each school, rather than aggregated by district. When reporting the percentage of highly qualified teachers, the state identifies schools with poverty levels in the high or low quartile.

Citation

Recommendations for Georgia

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. Georgia 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.
Georgia 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 Georgia does for highly qualified teachers, the state should provide comparative data for schools with similar poverty and minority populations. This would yield a more comprehensive picture of gaps in the equitable distribution of teachers. 

State response to our analysis

Georgia asserted that it provides data in the form of indexes, reports, and tools to monitor and support school systems and local schools' status in not only achieving 100 percent highly qualified teachers, but also the equitable distribution of highly qualified, highly effective teachers.

The state's Equity Technical Assistance (ETA) website provides all public schools and systems with a detailed summary of their student and teacher populations with comparative data. School level, system level, and state level data are summarized by combining key variables from the Certified Personal Information (CPI), the Highly Qualified data system (HiQ2), the Full-Time Equivalent records (FTE), the Student Record (SR), the Student Course Profile (CR), the Annual Yearly Progress report (AYP) and the teacher certification records for both Georgia teacher certificates as well as National Board Certificate information and the Georgia Master Teacher records.

ETA compares and contrasts schools within a system and across the state, provides important indicators of teacher population; and provides longitudinal data on all schools. Included are comparative data by teacher degree level, experience level, retention rates, experience continuity ratio, and with student minority enrollment data and economically disadvantaged student data, all at the school, district, and state level.

In addition to the ETA data, the HiQ2 system provides immediate access by schools and systems to the highly qualified status of their teachers and paraprofessionals in Georgia. As another tool, the Mid-year School Personal Analysis (MySPA) is a new website made available to systems and schools that provides attrition data, certification level, experience level and other information, including specific data for teachers of special education. 

Project EQ is an electronic library of equity initiatives that allows school systems to publish their equity plans and other equity-related programs in a public forum so that they are accessible by other school systems, both in Georgia and other states. Visitors are also able to communicate with project publishers and other website visitors. This forum enables visitors to further refine and perfect existing programs to meet their system's equity plan.

The data resources mentioned above, excluding the new systems of MySPA and Project EQ, which will be updated each year, are compiled and released to school systems and schools for each school year from 2004 to the present, allowing for longitudinal comparisons. They also provide policy makers, administrators and state staff with the means to verify the effectiveness of local equity policies.

The state's Governor's Office of Student Achievement works in partnership with the state Department of Education to create a report card that provides information for accountability, state test performance, national test performance, student and school demographics and personnel and fiscal data at the state, district and school level.

Last word

This very long response provides no further evidence that Georgia is reporting more school-level data than indicated in the analysis. While it is clear that Georgia has developed sophisticated data systems that focus on equity issues, the state should consider expanding its efforts to provide the public with more data about teacher distribution at the district and school level.

How we graded

Distribution data should show more than just teachers' years of experience and highly qualified status.

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.

The lack of such data feeds a misconception that all high-poverty schools are similarly unable to retain staff because of their demographics. If collected and disaggregated to the level of the individual school, however, such data could shift the focus of districts and states toward the quality of leadership at the school level and away from the notion that instability and inequity are unavoidable consequences of poverty and race. Variations in staff stability are huge among schools with similar numbers of poor and/or minority children. School culture, largely determined by school leadership, contributes greatly to teacher morale, which in turn affects teacher success and student achievement. By revealing these variations among schools facing the same challenges, school leadership can be held accountable—and rewarded when successful.

Within-district comparisons are crucial in order to control for as many elements specific to a district as possible, such as a collective bargaining agreement (or the district's personnel policies) and the amount of resources.

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).