The Challenges of Staffing Urban Schools With Effective Teachers

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A report about school staffing in urban areas.


<p>Princeton University</p> <p>The Challenges of Staffing Urban Schools with Effective Teachers Author(s): Brian A. Jacob Source: The Future of Children, Vol. 17, No. 1, Excellence in the Classroom (Spring, 2007), pp. 129-153 Published by: Princeton University Stable URL: . Accessed: 08/07/2011 00:10Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p> <p>Princeton University is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Future of Children.</p> <p></p> <p>The with</p> <p>ChallengesEffective</p> <p>of</p> <p>Staffing</p> <p>Urban</p> <p>Schools</p> <p>Teachers</p> <p>Brian A. JacobBrianJacobexamineschallengesfaced by urbandistrictsin staffingtheir schoolswith effective teachers. He emphasizes that the problem is far from uniform. Teacher shortagesare more severe in certainsubjectsand gradesthan others, and differ dramatically fromone school to another. The Chicago public schools, for example, regularlyreceive roughlyten applicantsfor each teachingposition. But manyapplicantsare interested in specific schools, and districtofficials struggleto find candidatesfor highlyimpoverishedschools. Urbandistricts'difficultyin attractingand hiringteachers,saysJacob,means that urbanteachers are less highly qualified than their suburbancounterpartswith respect to characteristics such as experience,educationalbackground, and teachingcertification.But they maynot thus be less effective teachers.Jacobcites recent studies that have found that manyteachercharacteristics bear surprisingly little relationshipto student outcomes. Policies to enhance teacher must thus be evaluatedin terms of their effect on student achievement,not in terms of quality conventionalteacher characteristics. Jacob then discusses how supply and demand contributeto urban teacher shortages.Supply factors involve wages, workingconditions, and geographicproximitybetween teacher candidates and schools. Urbandistrictshave tried variousstrategiesto increasethe supplyof teacher candidates(includingsalaryincreasesand targetedbonuses) and to improveretentionrates(includingmentoringprograms).But there is little rigorousresearchevidence on the effectiveness of these strategies. Demand also has a role in urban teacher shortages.Administrators urban schools may not in or value high-quality teachers. Humanresourcedepartmentsrestrictdistrictofficials recognize from makingjob offers until late in the hiringseason, after manycandidateshave accepted positions elsewhere. Jacob argues that urban districts must improve hiring practices and also reevaluatepolicies for teacher tenure so that ineffective teacherscan be dismissed. www.futureofchildren.orgA. Brian Jacobis assistantprofessor publicpolicy the JohnF.Kennedy of at The Schoolof Government, Harvard University. authoris grateful for excellentresearchassistanceprovided J. D. LaRock for manyhelpful and Jacob,SusannaLoeb,Jonah by suggestionsfromRobin Cecilia at of Rockoff, conference. Rouse,and otherparticipants the Future Children VOL. 17 / NO. 1 / SPRING 2007 129</p> <p>Summary</p> <p>Brian</p> <p>A. Jacob</p> <p>is more daunting today than ever. Although the United States has made importanteconomic progress over the past half century, many of the nation'schildren remain impoverished. In 2004, according to the Census Bureau, 13 million Americanchildren under age eighteen lived in poverty-an overall child poverty rate of 17.8 percent. Perhaps more important, structural changes in the economy have dramaticallyraised expectations for public schools over the past several decades. Although it was once possible for adults to earn a productive living with only rudimentaryacademic skills, recent technological advances have made it increasingly difficult for those with anything less than a college degree to find a job that offers a living and other wage.' Todayeven manufacturing blue-collarjobs require knowledge of algebra, as well as sophisticatedreadingcomprehension and problem-solvingskills. In this new environment,schools are being asked to provide all students an education once enjoyed by only a select few. Teachersplay a criticalrole in schooling,particularly in inner-city school districts where childrenoften have less supportat home. But central-city districts often have difficulty finding qualified teachers. Accordingto federal statisticsin the Schoolsand StaffingSurvey (SASS), 34.7 percent of central city schools had difficultyhiring a math teacher, comparedwith only 25.1 percent of suburban schools.2 In this article I examine the challenges that urban districts face in staffing their schoolswith effective teachers. First, I provide a de130 THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN</p> <p>S</p> <p>chools serving inner-city students face the challenge of preparing children from disadvantaged neighborhoods to be productive citizens. The task, always difficult,</p> <p>tailedlook at urbanschoolsand schooldistricts, highlighting some of the important</p> <p>differfromboth districts waysin whichurbanwealthier suburban districts and high-poverty rural districts. Next, I describe the staffing</p> <p>difficultiesencounteredby urban schools,noting in particular that teachers in urban districts are less highly qualified than their suburban counterparts with respect to criteria such as experience, educational background, and teaching certification. I then review evidence on teacher effectiveness, exploring whether highly qualified teachers are the most effective at promoting student learning. After examining why it is hard for urban districts to staff their schools, I discuss policy options for raising the quality of the teacher workforce in urban areas and assess the evidence on each option.</p> <p>A Portrait of Urban Districts and SchoolsWhat is an urban school? For many Americans, the term urban school evokes an image of a dilapidated school building in a poor inner-city neighborhood populated with African American or Hispanic children. How accurate is that image? By definition, of course, urban schools are located in large central cities. But although these communities are often characterized by high rates of poverty, poverty itself is not unique to urban areas and can be found, in particular, in many schools in the nation's rural areas. In this section I highlight key features of urban schools and school districts that distinguish them from both rural and suburban districts. I then show how those features contribute to the staffing challenges faced by these districts. The statistics shown in table 1 present a detailed portrait of urban schools and communities. Unless otherwise noted, the data are drawn from the Schools and Staffing Survey</p> <p>The Challenges</p> <p>of Staffing</p> <p>Urban Schools</p> <p>with Effective</p> <p>Teachers</p> <p>Table 1. Students and Schools in Urbanand SuburbanDistricts and in All Public SchoolsPercent unlessotherwise specified Characteristic Students ShareAfrican American ShareHispanic Shareminority Sharereceiving I services Title Shareparticipating free or reduced-price in lunchprogram Sharespecialeducation Sharelimited proficient English Shareof 4th graders or on math scoringproficient advanced NAEP Shareof 4th graders or on scoringproficient advanced NAEP reading Shareof schoolswhere&gt; 90 percentof 12th graders graduated Community rate Poverty rate Employment crimerateper 100,000 inhabitants Violent crimerateper 100,000 inhabitants PropertySchool and district</p> <p>Allpublic schools</p> <p>Central city</p> <p>Suburban</p> <p>16.8 17.7 39.7 27.5 41.6 12.8 10.8 32 30 73.0 9.2 5.8 466 3,517 47,315,700 537 ... 9.7 3.1...</p> <p>28.4 28.9 64.0 40.4 56.4 12.9 17.3 27 22 55.0 13.6 7.5 506 3,697 13,972,000 636 9,980 13.0 12.41.4</p> <p>12.3 14.6 31.8 19.7 32.1 12.6 8.2 36 33 73.2 6.0 4.6 377 4,110 24,915,800 589 3,664 9.2 3.01.2</p> <p>of Number studentsenrolled public in schools number studentsperschool of Average number studentsperdistrict of Average Shareof all children schools attending private number teachersnot renewed dismissed of or AverageAverage share of teachers dismissed</p> <p>Schoolresources Perpupil 2000-01 (dollars) expenditures, number studentsperteacher of Average full-time teachersalary(dollars) Average regular, Shareof schoolswithtemporary buildings Shareof schoolsthat routinely used commonareasforinstructional purposes Shareof schools in whichsome teachersdidnot havetheirownclassrooms becauseof lackof space Shareof schoolswitha library mediacenter Shareof medialibraries computer with access number workstations Internet of with access in medialibraries Average 7,268 14.6 44,400 31.7 19.2 26.7 93.7 92.7 13.1 7,812 15.0 45,400 37.7 21.3 27.9 92.9 92.3 13 7,542 14.6 46,100 34.4 19.0 29.1 94.1 94.5 14.2</p> <p>Notes:Unlessnotedbelow,allstatisticscome fromthe 2003-04 Schoolsand Staffing and fromNational Center Edfor Survey weredrawn ucationStatistics,"CharacteristicsSchools,Districts, of in and Teachers, States, 2003-04, Schools Principals, SchoolLibraries the United and Staffing 2006-313 (U.S.Department Education, of Survey," all Report 2006). Thedata in column1 include public schools;columns2 and 3 refer, to cells inrespectively, schoolsin centralcitiesand schoolson the urban fringesof centralcities (including towns).Blank large dicatethatthe relevant statisticwas not available. Datafromthe National Assessmentof Educational are fromthe DataExplorer on the webtool (NAEP) for2003 andwereobtained Progress site of the National Center Education for Column dataforall public Statistics, 1 includes schools; columns2 and 3 refer,respectively, schools in centralcities and schools in the urban to fringeof centralcities. Crimeratedata are for 2004 and were drawn fromthe Uniform Crime Bureau Investigation, conof as produced the Federal Reports by tainedin the table foundat in column1 referto Thedata the entireUnited to States;columns2 and3 refer, statistical areas (MSAs) citiesoutsideMSAs. and Per respectively, ratesformetropolitan data come from the Conditionof Educationreport publishedby the Department Education,accessed at pupil expenditure of 22, 2006). (August and ratescome fromthe 2000 Census,accessed usingthe American Poverty employment FactFinder tool on the U.S. CensusBureau data website.Thefiguresin column1 referto the entireUnitedStates; figuresin columns2 and 3 refer,respectively, centralcity areas in to MSAs non-central-city and areas in MSAs. VOL. 17 / NO.1 / SPRING 2007 131</p> <p>Brian</p> <p>A. Jacob</p> <p>of 2003-04, a nationallyrepresentativesurvey administeredby the Departmentof Education. The top panel confirms that urban districts do indeed have high shares of poor and minoritystudents.Roughly64 percent of students in central cities are minority, as againstonly 32 percent in areason the urban fringe or large towns (hereafterI will refer to these areasas suburbs).Similarly, percent 56 of studentsin centralcities participatein free</p> <p>Urban and suburban schools also djfer from each other in terms of the resources availableto students and teachers, although the many compensatorystate and federal programs reduce the size of the disparities.lunch programsand 40 percent receive services under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (federal funds earmarked for poor children), comin paredwith 32 and 20 percent, respectively, suburbs. On average, urban students score lower on standardized achievement exams than their suburbancounterparts.For example, only 17 percent of fourth graders in central cities scored at the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math exam, compared with 27 percent in suburban schools. Poverty, as noted, is a feature of rural districts as well as urban districts. So is low student achievement. And urban schools resemble rural schools-and differ from suburban132 THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN</p> <p>schools-in two other respects. First, like some of the nation'sruralschools (see the article by David Monk in this volume), urban schools educate many of the nation'simmigrantchildren,for whom English is a second language.The share of students classified as limited English proficient is twice as high in central cities as it is in suburbs (17.3 versus 8.2 percent). Indeed, many large U.S. cities educate children from dozens (or even hundreds) of differentnations.In New YorkCity schools, for example, students speak more than 120 languages.3This rich arrayof languages makes it harder for schools to communicate with parents and also limits districts' ability to offer any home language instruction(whether full-blownbilingualeducation or simply periodic assistance in the home language) to many of their students. Again like students in rural schools in some areasof the nation, studentsin urbanschools tend to have extremely high rates of mobility.4And when teachers are forced to adjust</p> <p>to accommodatean ever-changingset of students, this high mobilitybecomes disruptive not only for the "movers" also for stable but students. The portrait of central cities drawn by the table is ratherbleak:rates of unemployment, poverty,and crime are all high. The jobless rate in urbanareas,for example,averaged7.5 percent, as against4.6 percent in the suburbs. And the rate of violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants was 506 in urban areas, compared with 377 in the suburbs (and only 202 in nonmetropolitan counties). Beyond tangible measures of disadvantage such as poverty or crime, some researchers have also argued that many inner-city neighborhoods suffer from poor "social capital"-the informal connections between people that help a community monitor its children, provide positive role models, and give support to those in need.5</p> <p>The Challenges</p> <p>of Staffing</p> <p>Urban Schools</p> <p>with Effective</p> <p>Teachers</p> <p>Urban and suburban schools also differ from each other in terms of the resources available to students an...</p>