NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Least Qualified Teachers In Public Schools With Minorities and Poor Students

January 8, 2003

On average, less qualified teachers are assigned to public schools with a high proportion of minority students or students from poor families, say researchers.

According to an Education Week survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

  • Only about half of secondary students in high-poverty schools have teachers who majored in and are certified to teach their subjects -- compared with about 70 percent of secondary students in low-poverty schools.
  • In high-poverty secondary schools, 32 percent of students take a class with a teacher who lacks even a minor in the subject taught -- about a third higher than the proportion (22 percent) in low poverty schools.
  • Secondary students in high-poverty schools are twice as likely as those in low-poverty schools (26 percent vs. 13 percent) to have a teacher who is not certified in the subject taught.

The faculty of high-poverty, high-minority schools are also less experienced. At the elementary level, 13 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools have less than three years' experience, compared with 9 percent of teachers in low-poverty schools.

Source: Education Week, "To Close the Gap, Quality Counts," Editorial Projects in Education, Vol. 22, number 17, page 7, January 9, 2003.


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