Study Identifies Troubling Patterns of Teacher Assignments in Schools

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Even within the same school, lower-achieving students often are taught by less-experienced teachers, as well as by teachers who received their degrees from less-competitive colleges, according to a new study by researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the World Bank. The study, using data from one of the nation's largest school districts, also shows that student class assignments vary within schools by a teacher's gender and race.

In a paper published in this month's issue of Sociology of Education, the researchers present the results of a comprehensive analysis of teacher assignments in the nation's fourth-largest school district, Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Their findings identify trends that may contribute to teacher turnover and achievement gaps nationwide.

Previous research indicates that high-quality teachers can significantly improve education outcomes for students.  However, not all students have equal access to the best teachers.

"It is well-known that teachers systematically sort across schools, disadvantaging low-income, minority and low-achieving students," said Demetra Kalogrides, a research associate at the Graduate School of Education's Center for Education Policy Analysis and one of the study's three authors. "Our findings are novel because they address the assignment of teachers to classes within schools. We cannot assume that teacher sorting stops at the school doors."

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