“Interaction between students and their teachers—through curriculum, coursework, and instruction—is at the heart of education. Students’ exposure to a rich and broad curriculum, challenging coursework, and inspired teaching is therefore vital for their learning and development. There is no widespread agreement on which specific elements of curriculum, coursework, and teaching matter for student outcomes. Most of the research base is inadequate to support causal inferences about the relationships between these factors and student outcomes. But there is evidence that these core elements are not distributed in an equitable way—in relation to either proportionality or need. Excellence in academic programming and resources needs to include not only equitable access to AP courses and other advanced coursework, but also meeting the academic needs of students on the other end of the achievement distribution. The adequacy of formal academic supports for students who are struggling to achieve is at least as important as fair access to enrichment opportunities for students at the top."1
Research has long shown that differences in exposure to challenging courses and instruction are associated with disparities in educational outcomes.2, 3 Further research has explored the concept of tracking—the process by which students are assigned to different levels of coursework based on their abilities—and how this process has been associated with the disproportionate placement of student groups in courses of differing levels of rigor, even if they have similar ability levels.4 Research has also explored the role of teachers in education, and there is widespread agreement that teachers have an important role in student learning and outcomes, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 although some research has pointed out limitations of these studies.11 This domain, Equitable Access to High-Quality Curricula and Instruction, is examined by three indicators,—access to effective teaching, enrollment in and completion of rigorous coursework, and access to high-quality academic supports—using data from the School and Staffing Survey (SASS), the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), the High School Transcript Study (HSTS), the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the Common Core of Data (CCD), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) database, and EDFacts. These indicators are based on recommendations in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) framework. The NASEM report notes that some of the recommended indicators have limitations. Currently, the Equity in Education Dashboard provides data based on published products. Because data in our published products do not always perfectly align with the recommended indicators in the NASEM report, we have indicated where our data differ from recommendations in the report. More findings will be added to the Equity in Education Dashboard over time. While the NASEM report uses availability of advanced rigorous coursework, this indicator examines enrollment in and completion of advanced coursework. The NASEM report also includes International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and gifted and talented programs, however, data for these courses and programs are not presented in this domain and may be available in future versions of this report. Group differences in this domain are examined across several educational equity dimensions: race/ethnicity, sex,12 socioeconomic status (SES), disability status and type, English learner status, school locale, state, grade level, and language spoken, wherever the data allow.13
The Access to Effective Teaching indicator examines three constructs: teachers’ years of experience, teacher education and certification, and racial and ethnic diversity of the teaching force.
The Access to and Enrollment in Rigorous Coursework indicator examines two constructs: enrollment and completion in advanced, rigorous coursework and enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment programs.
The Access to High-Quality Academic Supports indicator examines one construct: access to and participation in formalized systems of academic supports, with a focus on special education services and services for English learners (ELs).
1 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Monitoring Educational Equity (p. 90-91). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25389.
2 Gamoran, A. (1987). The Stratification of High School Learning Opportunities. Sociology of Education, 60(3), 135-155.
3 Gamoran, A., and Mare, R.D. (1989). Secondary School Tracking and Educational Inequality: Compensation, Reinforcement, or Neutrality? American Journal of Sociology, 94(5), 1146-1183.
4 Mickelson, R. A. (2005). How Tracking Undermines Race Equity in Desegregated Schools. In J. Petrovich and A.S. Wells (Eds.), Bringing Equity Back. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
5 Aaronson, D., Barrow, L., and Sander, W. (2007). Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools. Journal of Labor Economics, 25(1), 95-135.
6 McCaffrey, D.F., Lockwood, J.R., Koretz, D.M., Louis, T.A., and Hamilton, L.S. (2004). Models for Value-Added Modeling of Teacher Effects. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 29(1), 67-102.
7 McCaffrey, D.F., Sass, T.R., Lockwood, J.R., and Mihaly, K. (2009). The Intertemporal Variability of Teacher Effect Estimates. Education Finance and Policy, 4(4), 572-606.
8 Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., and Hedges, L.V. (2004). How Large are Teacher Effects? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(3), 237-257. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3102/01623737026003237.
9 Rivkin, S.G., Hanushek, E.A., and Kain, J.F. (2005). Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417-458.
10 Rockoff, J.E. (2004). The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data. The American Economic Review, 94(2), 247-252.
11 Rothstein, J.M. (2017). Measuring the Impacts of Teachers: Comment. American Economic Review, 107(6), 1656-1684.
12 This domain presents a compilation of data from various sources crossing several periods of time. Within each indicator, the term “gender” or “sex” is used as presented by the original data source at the time.
13 Not all equity dimensions, such as race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, English learner status, and disability status, are examined for all constructs.
14 Education specialist degrees or certificates are generally awarded for 1 year’s work beyond the master’s level, including a certificate of advanced graduate studies.
15 For findings based on CCD data, Pacific Islander includes data for Native Hawaiians and any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
Disabilities, children with English learner (EL) Enrollment Free or reduced-price lunch Geographic region High school completer High school diploma Household Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Locale codes Private school Public school or institution Racial/ethnic group Regular school School district