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New Report Reveals the Unsatisfactory Distribution of Teacher Quality in NYC

Schools with high rates of poverty, low student achievement and high percentages of black and Hispanic students have a disproportionate share of Unsatisfactory rated teachers.

In the first-ever research study of New York City’s teacher rating data StudentsFirstNY reveals a glaring injustice: the students who most depend on highly effective teachers are instead the students most likely to be taught by teachers rated “Unsatisfactory.”

The analysis reveals that schools with the highest rates of poverty and the lowest rates of student achievement, as well as those with high concentrations of students of color, are the most likely to have teachers with unsatisfactory ratings. Conversely, wealthier, higher-achieving schools have fewer “U-rated” teachers. The findings were consistent among elementary, middle and high schools.

Specifically, the report found:

  • POVERTY: Students in High Poverty schools were more than three times as likely to be taught by a U-rated teacher as students in Low Poverty schools.

  • RACE: Students in schools with high percentages of black and Hispanic students were almost four times as likely to be taught by a U-rated teacher as students in schools with far fewer students of color.

  • ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT:Students in Low Proficiency elementary schools were more than three times as likely and students in Low Proficiency middle schools were more than four times as likely to be taught by a U-rated teacher as students in High Proficiency schools.

  • COLLEGE READINESS AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL: Students in high schools with Low College Readiness rates were more than twice as likely to be taught by a U-rated teacher as students in schools with High College Readiness rates.

An ineffective teacher in any classroom is a failure of the system at the expense of students. A concentration of ineffective teachers serving specific student populations is an injustice. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of steps we can take. First off, we need to immediately implement the robust and comprehensive teacher evaluation system created by Governor Cuomo. Other steps we can take, include:

  • Create strong incentives for highly effective teachers to serve high-needs schools.

  • Reform New York state’s outmoded tenure law to enable principals to effectively manage their schools and staffs.

  • Remove barriers that consign students to schools that have a disproportionate share of ineffective teachers.

This report highlights the utter failure of New York City schools to provide quality teachers to those students who need them most. We know what we have to do to fix it. Inaction is not an option.

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Read the report “Unsatisfactory: The Distribution of Teacher Quality in New York City” (PDF).

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