Do Low-Income Students Have Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Evidence from 26 Districts (Final Report)

Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
Oct 27, 2016
Eric Isenberg, Jeffrey Max, Philip Gleason, Matthew Johnson, Jonah Deutsch, and Michael Hansen

Key Findings:

  • High- and low-income students have similar chances of being taught by the most effective teachers and the least effective teachers.
  • There are small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students in the average study district.
  • In a small subset of study districts, there is meaningful inequity in access to effective teachers in math.
  • Teacher hiring and transfer patterns are consistent with small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students. Patterns of teacher attrition do not contribute to inequitable access to effective teachers.
A key question for policymakers is whether inequality in educational outcomes is caused by differences in students’ access to effective teachers. This report examines whether low-income students are taught by less effective teachers than high-income students, and if so, whether reducing this inequity would close the student achievement gap. It also describe how the hiring of teachers and their subsequent movement into and out of schools could affect low-income students’ access to effective teachers. The study includes fourth- to eighth-grade teachers over five school years (2008-2009 to 2012-2013) in 26 school districts across the country.