Equitable Distribution: Iowa

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.

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

Analysis of Iowa's policies

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

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

Iowa does report on the percentage of highly qualified teachers, but these data are reported only statewide, not at the district or school level. Iowa reports on the average years of teacher experience by district. The state is commended for reporting on disparities between percentage of highly qualified teachers by poverty level and minority population. Iowa's Equity Plan, published in December 2006, reported on teacher retention rate for the previous three years, but these data have not been updated.

Citation

Recommendations for Iowa

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. Iowa 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.
Iowa should collect and report 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.
Providing comparative data for schools with similar poverty and minority populations would yield an even more comprehensive picture of gaps in the equitable distribution of teachers. 

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. Iowa should update the data it reports on highly qualified teachers. 

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

State response to our analysis

Iowa recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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).