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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Report: Far more out-of-field teachers in high-poverty schools



Low-income kids are not on an even playing field when it comes to being taught by high-quality teachers, says a new report out today.

The Education Trust found 1 in 5 core classes in high-poverty middle and high schools are being taught by out-of-field teachers – a rate almost twice as high as it is in low-poverty schools. In math classes, it’s even worse: there, 1 in 4 classes are taught by teachers who didn’t major in math and aren’t certified in math.

“Students who are taught by educators with subject-area knowledge tend to achieve at higher levels than those who aren’t, especially in mathematics,” said Sarah Almy, the director of teacher quality at the Education Trust, said in a statement. “So when low-income kids – the ones most likely to face outside-of-school challenges – are assigned to math classes taught by English majors, we are dramatically increasing the odds against their success and stacking the deck for failure.”

The across-the-board percentages in Florida are close to the national average. Between 2003-04 and 2007-08, the percentage of core secondary classes taught by out-of-field teachers dipped from 17.2 percent to 15.6 percent nationwide. In Florida, it dropped from 17.9 to 15.9 percent.

The report gives Florida credit for trying to deal with the issue.

It suggests that states and districts adopt policies barring “disproportionate assignment” of out of field teachers, then continues: “While federal law prohibits this already, states like Florida have shown that it is also useful to have a state law. Then state leaders can prohibit districts from entering into agreements that interfere with the policy goal of fair access and, as Florida did, deny discretionary funding for districts that don’t make progress on closing teacher-quality gaps.”

[Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:14pm]


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