Students of color less likely to have effective teachers

new report the Center for American Progress showed that low-income students and students of color were less likely to have “expert teachers.” The study utilized data gathered from two states (Louisiana & Massachusetts)  that have recently implemented a new teacher evaluation system. This information was cross referenced with information on poverty level of each school based on the percentage of student enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs as well as the percentage of students of color. In Louisiana, the effectiveness ratings of teachers were: “Ineffective”, “Effective-Emerging”, “Effective-Proficient”, and “Highly Effective”. The ratings for teachers in Massachusetts were: “Unsatisfactory”, “Needs Improvement”, “Proficient”, and “Exemplary”.

Key findings.

  • In Louisiana, students in the highest poverty quartile were 3x more likely to me taught by a teacher rated as ineffective compared to students in the lowest poverty quartile.
  • Also, there are about 40% less highly effective teachers in high-poverty schools compared to the low-poverty schools.
  • Similar trends were observed in Massachusetts. Students in high-poverty schools were 3x more likely to be taught by teachers rated as “unsatisfactory.”
  • High-poverty community students were less likely to be taught by a teacher rated as “proficient” and more likely to be taught by a teacher rated as “needs improvement.”

Some of the recommendations provided as a result of these findings were to:

  1. Encourage effective teachers to move to disadvantaged schools through incentives such as differentiated compensation.
  2. Improve the effectiveness of all teachers through proven professional development.
  3. Improve recruitment of new teachers, with the goal of hiring an effective teacher workforce.


Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health