Building a high-quality teaching force in challenged high schools

A new policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education examines the persistent problem of providing low-performing high schools with a consistent high-quality teacher workforce.

Improving the Distribution of Teachers in Low-Performing High Schools (made possible with the support of MetLife Foundation) notes that teachers with more credentials and experience “tend to primarily serve students in schools with greater financial resources, fewer low-income students, safer working conditions, higher student achievement levels, and fewer students of color.” (Click on AEE graph for data)

The Alliance argues for better teacher preparation and “quality alternate routes” to increase the supply of effective teachers.  Recruitment challenges, the Washington-based research and advocacy group says, “can be addressed through targeting pay and streamlining hiring practices.” Among the keys to building and retaining a high-quality faculty in low-performing high schools are improved working conditions; a combination of supports, professional development, and evaluation during the early teaching years; and more career advancement opportunities for veteran teachers.

The report also notes that many effective teachers abandon their jobs in struggling schools “because of lack of support from administrators, a negative environment, or inadequate school leadership” — suggesting that efforts to improve working conditions must necessarily address the quality of leadership in the school building.