Current federal education legislation requires school districts to measure and report on teacher qualifications, both to ensure that students are being taught by highly qualified teachers and to ensure that teachers are distributed equitably across schools, regardless of student demographics. Indicator 9.1 examines the percentage of high school teachers who had either a college major or certification in the subject that they consider to be their main teaching assignment. The focus is on those teachers who are lacking both, as they are not likely to be considered highly qualified. Indicator 9.2 reports the percentage of novice teachers (teachers with less than 3 years of experience), as well as the average years of teaching experience, by the concentration of various racial/ethnic groups in high schools. These data indicate where the most experienced teachers are working. It has been suggested that, even for highly effective teachers, the first few years of their career can be difficult. Research has shown that Black and White students have different levels of exposure to novice teachers (Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor 2004).
Teachers are certified by the state in which they teach. Certification can be standard, advanced professional, or probationary. The 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) asked teachers whether they were certified in the subject that they taught most often (referred to as their main assignment), as well as what their major was in college. These data were combined for public high school teachers and reported by subject area (mathematics, English, and science), as well as by the percentage of the school enrollment that was White, Black, or Hispanic.16View Figure 9.1
Twelve percent of teachers whose main assignment was secondary mathematics had neither a major nor a certification in the subject. This percentage was higher than the percentage of English teachers or science teachers that had neither qualification (8 and 4 percent, respectively). For schools with at least half White enrollment, 8 percent of mathematics teachers had neither qualification, which was lower than the overall rate and the rate for schools with at least half Black enrollment (25 percent). Other differences between racial/ethnic groups could not be distinguished, in part due to large standard errors.View Table 9.1
Another measure of potential teacher quality is years of teaching experience. Indicator 9.2 uses 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey data to look at the percentage of "new" teachers, meaning those with less than 3 years of experience, by the racial/ethnic concentration of schools.
Schools with at least half White enrollment had a smaller percentage of new teachers (10 percent) than schools that were more than half Black (13 percent), or at least half Hispanic (15 percent). In contrast, schools with at least half White enrollment had teachers with more experience (14 years of experience, on average) than schools with at least half Hispanic enrollment (12 years of experience, on average).View Table 9.2
16 The Schools and Staffing Survey did not contain sufficient numbers of public secondary school teachers to be able to analyze schools with concentrations of Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native students.