Access to Effective Teaching for Disadvantaged Students (Executive Summary)

Publisher: Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
Nov 30, 2013
Authors
Eric Isenberg, Jeffrey Max, Philip Gleason, Liz Potamites, Robert Santillano, Heinrich Hock, and Michael Hansen

In this report, we describe disadvantaged students’ access to effective teaching in grades 4 through 8 in 29 diverse school districts, using value-added analysis to measure effective teaching. Recent federal initiatives emphasize measuring teacher effectiveness and ensuring that disadvantaged students have equal access to effective teachers. These include Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the flexibility policy for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which allows states to waive a number of provisions in exchange for a commitment to key reform principles (U.S. Department of Education 2009, 2012a).

Federal efforts to promote the equitable distribution of effective teachers arise from concerns that disadvantaged students may have less access to effective teachers, thereby contributing to sizable achievement gaps for disadvantaged students (Reardon 2011; U.S. Department of Education 2012b). A growing body of research uses value-added analysis to measure teacher effectiveness and examine the extent to which disadvantaged students have access to effective teachers. Value added measures a teacher’s contribution to student learning, accounting for a student’s previous achievement level and background characteristics. Studies consistently find considerable variation in teacher effectiveness based on value-added measures (Nye et al. 2004; Rockoff 2004; Rivkin et al. 2005; Kane et al. 2006; Aaronson et al. 2007; Koedel and Betts 2009). In addition, there is evidence of better long-run outcomes for students taught by more effective teachers as measured by value added, including lower rates of teen pregnancy, increased likelihood of college attendance, and higher wages (Chetty et al. 2011).

Given the importance of teachers in improving student achievement and concerns about unequal access to effective teachers (Jerald et al. 2009; Brown and Haycock 2011), more evidence on access to effective teaching is needed. This report focuses on access to effective teaching in 29 school districts over the 2008-2009 to 2010-2011 school years.