Equitable Distribution: Rhode Island

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 in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Equitable Distribution: Rhode Island results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/RI-Equitable-Distribution-8

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

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

Rhode Island collects and publicly reports some of the data recommended by NCTQ. Although the state does not provide a school-level teacher quality index that demonstrates the academic backgrounds of a school's teachers, Rhode Island does report on the percentage of teachers on emergency certification, the percentage of classes taught by highly qualified teachers, the percentage of classes taught by teachers in the field of education for less than one year and teacher retention. Commendably, these data are reported for each school, rather than aggregated by district. Rhode Island compares the percentage of highly qualified teachers in high- and low-poverty schools in the state report card.

Citation

Recommendations for Rhode Island

Use a teacher quality index to report publicly about each school.
Rhode Island is commended for reporting more school-level data than most states. However, the state should utilize a teacher quality index with such data as with 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. This can shine a light on how equitably teachers are distributed both across and within districts. Rhode Island 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.
Rhode Island should collect and report other school-level data that reflect the stability of a school's faculty, including the rate of teacher absenteeism.

Provide comparative data based on school demographics.
As Rhode Island does with 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

Rhode Island 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).