Getting serious about the Washington teacher quality gap

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A poor seventh-grader in the Tacoma School District is almost twice as likely as a more-advantaged seventh-grader to have an inexperienced math teacher.

This isn’t unique to Tacoma, nor is it unique to seventh grade. Nor is it unique to this particular measure of teacher quality or student disadvantage. It is systemic: Across Washington state public schools, substantial “teacher quality gaps” exist between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

The topic of educational achievement gaps and their implications for individual students and society is not new. What is new is our knowledge of the mechanisms that contribute to or ameliorate these gaps. One of these mechanisms is teacher quality, which research shows to be the most important in-school factor influencing student outcomes.

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