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The Narrowing Gap in New York City Teacher Qualifications and Implications for Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools

Donald Boyd, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, Jonah Rockoff, James Wyckoff
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Document date: November 21, 2008
Released online: April 15, 2009

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This important research explores the effects of district policy interventions on the distribution of teacher qualifications and student achievement. Authors use a 5-year span of individual teacher- and student-level longitudinal data from New York City (NYC) from 2000 through 2005 to estimate the differences in the effectiveness of teachers entering NYC schools through different pathways to teaching. The study finds that the gap between the qualifications of NYC teachers in high-poverty and low-poverty NYC schools has narrowed substantially since 2000, mostly ensuing from the city's concentrated effort to match exceptionally capable teachers with very needy students and the virtual substitution of newly hired uncertified teachers in high-poverty schools with new hires from alternative certification routes: NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach for America.



Arguably the most important educational resource is teachers. Teachers and teaching quality are a central feature of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) which requires a "highly qualified teacher" in every core academic classroom. Many states and large districts also have policies in place to attract qualified teachers to difficult-to-staff schools. NCLB, state assessment-based accountability policies and new routes into teaching have all had profound effects on the labor market for teachers. In this research, we explore the effect of these changes on the distribution of teacher qualifications and student achievement. Employing data from New York City, we examine three questions:

  1. How has the distribution of teaching qualifications between schools with concentrations of poor students and those with more affluent students changed between 2000 and 2005?
  2. What effects are the changes in observed teacher qualifications likely to have on student achievement? and
  3. What implications do these findings have for improving policies and programs aimed at recruiting highly effective teachers?

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Topics/Tags: | Education

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