Things to Remember During the Teacher Hiring Season (page 3)

— The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
Updated on May 5, 2014

Allocate Staff to Narrow Achievement Gaps

Although we know the significant impact that a classroom teacher has on student performance, tradition in many schools and districts still dictates that the most experienced teachers are assigned the highest performing students. There are many reasons for this practice, including everything from aggressive parents to union contracts, but it has led to an unfortunate consequence: low-income and minority students are far more likely to have inexperienced teachers, and thus learn significantly less, than their wealthier, white counterparts. One recent study in North Carolina (Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2003) found that nearly one quarter of the state's black-white achievement gap can be attributed to teacher assignment patterns within schools.

"If teachers have expertise in a certain area, then they should be placed with the lowest performing students," says Darlene Yañez, a research director with the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin who has studied schools that have narrowed achievement gaps. "In high-performing, high-poverty schools, the focus is always about what is best for students... making sure those kids get what they need to get." Not all schools will be able to reform all staff, but school leaders should be sure to pay attention to this issue during the teacher hiring and deployment process. "Start with small successes and recognize those and then build on that. Success breeds success," says Yañez.

Resources: The National Center for Educational Accountability's self-audit Web site allows educators to compare their staff selection and development practices with schools that have been successful with students from all backgrounds.


Schools and districts need to know which teachers they want and where in the school they want them-and then go out and hire those teachers as quickly and efficiently as possible. While such hiring drives can be difficult and time consuming, improving the instructional capacity of a school may be the most important academic reform a school can undertake.


Cech, S. J. (2005, May 1). Homegrown. Teacher magazine, 16(6), 37-41.

Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. (2003). Who teaches whom? Race and the distribution of novice teachers. Durham, NC: Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). "Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1).

Hanushek, E. A. (2002). Teacher quality. In L. T. Izumi & W. M. Evers (Eds.), Teacher Quality (pp. 1-13). Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

Kumar, R. B. (2004, September 29) Memphis city schools working on the kinks in hiring. The Commercial Appeal.

Levin, J., & Quinn, M. (2003). Missed opportunities: How we keep high-quality teachers out of urban schools. New York: The New Teacher Project.

Rice, J. K. (2003). Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Sanders, W. (1998). Value-added assessment. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators.

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