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Report Finds Underqualified Teachers More Likely to Work in Schools with Poor or Low-performing Students

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 12, 2003) -- A new study by the University at Albany's Education Finance Research Consortium (EFRC) examines how teacher qualifications are distributed across New York public schools.

In “Understanding Teacher Labor Markets: Implications for Equity,” professors Hamp Lankford and Jim Wyckoff of the University at Albany; Don Boyd, deputy director of UAlbany’s Center for Policy Research; and Susanna Loeb, assistant professor at Stanford University, examine the distribution of teacher attributes in New York and identify characteristics of teacher "sorting" that create an uneven distribution of teacher qualifications across the state’s labor markets.

The authors find “substantial variation across schools in the qualifications of teachers." Less-qualified teachers, such as those failing the general knowledge certification exam, are more likely to teach in schools with higher numbers of non-white, poor or low-performing students. The authors attribute the disparity to teacher preferences (new teachers prefer to work close to their hometown and in a school that matches the urbanicity of their high school), transfer requests (teachers in schools with higher numbers of non-white, poor or low-performing students are more likely to transfer out after a few years), and compensation (in 2000, starting salaries for novice teachers with master’s degrees in New York City were 15 percent lower than those of similar teachers at suburban schools). The authors conclude that targeted strategies such as hiring incentives, compensation and improvements to teacher preparation are needed to close the qualifications gap.

Boyd, Lankford and Wyckoff have studied secondary education in New York State since the early 1990s. Along with Loeb and Pam Grossman, professor of education at Stanford, the authors have begun a three-year study of teacher preparation programs in the state and what role they play in student achievement.

In a separate EFRC report, Developing a Financial Condition Indicator System for New York School Districts, authors William Duncombe and Bernard Jump, professors at Syracuse University, and Salwa Ammar and Ronald Wright, professors at LeMoyne College, release their work on a financial review system for New York schools. The Financial Condition Indicator System, or FCIS, was developed with input from state agencies and school groups, and has garnered the wide-spread support it needs for implementation. FCIS measures four main components: a school’s short- and long-run financial condition, the economic condition of the school’s location and student performance. It applies a “fuzzy rule-based system,” a step-wise process of measuring data that incorporates informed judgment in the variables. The model allows for separate analysis of any of the four components so that targeted reviews can be made as needed.

The authors anticipate that the FCIS will be ready to pilot within the year.

For the full text of these and other EFRC education research reports and related information, visit the Education Finance Research Consortium website.


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu


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