Understanding Teacher Quality Gaps: How Did They Form, and How Can We Close Them?

What are the key sources of gaps in teacher quality? What policies can help close these gaps?

Teacher quality varies greatly, with students in less advantaged schools more likely to have less qualified and less effective teachers than peers in more advantaged schools. Goldhaber and colleagues draw on longitudinal data on public school students, teachers, and schools from Washington, Florida, and North Carolina. The states vary in terms of the number of charter schools and the existence of collective bargaining, as well as teacher salaries, district size, and student diversity. The research team will first examine the distribution of teacher quality across student background characteristics. They will then consider whether districts, schools, or classrooms are the primary source of gaps in teacher quality. The team will examine the extent to which patterns in teacher hiring, transfer, and attrition contribute to these gaps. The proposed study will provide the first evidence connecting policies and interventions to the overall teacher quality gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. The findings have the potential to inform policymakers’ plans to close public school teacher quality gaps—an effort developed in response to a federal directive but guided by little empirical evidence.