The Department of Education contracted with Mathematica Policy Research to examine access to effective teaching in grades 4 through 8 in 29 diverse school districts over the 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 school years. In a November 2013 report, “Access to Effective Teaching for Disadvantaged Students,” researchers concluded that on average, disadvantaged students did not have equal access to effective teaching.
Despite these findings, the Department is changing requirements for states interested in renewing their No Child Left Behind Act waivers that directly pertains to access to effective teachers. Previously, states would have been required to include plans for spending federal professional development funds and for improving the distribution of effective teachers to ensure that children who are poor or minorities are not taught by ineffective teachers at a higher rate than their peers. The Department is backing away from those requirements and, instead, plans to address them for all states, not just the waiver states, “outside the [No Child Left Behind waiver] flexibility process.” The Department’s expectation is that states will “continue to move forward with efforts to support high-quality professional development and increase equitable access to effective teachers for all students.”