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Black And Latino Students Disproportionately Taught By Inexperienced, Uncertified Teachers, Study Shows

The researchers call the situation a ‘racial justice issue.’

Black and Latino students disproportionately learn in classrooms headed by inexperienced and uncertified teachers, contributing to the academic achievement gap that has stubbornly persisted for decades, new studies from the nonprofit education advocacy group The Education Trust says.

“This is a racial justice issue. These disparities have been happening for way too long,” Education Week quoted Sarah Mehrotra, the lead author of the reports. Mehrotra, a P-12 research and policy analyst, urged states and school districts to make changes, “especially now as we’re facing these labor shortages and as we’re looking to pandemic recovery.”

According to the studies, one on Latino students and the other on Black students, schools that serve predominantly Black students on average hire 15 percent of inexperienced teachers, compared to 10 percent of novice educators at schools with the smallest Black student enrollment.

The gap is wider in about 25 percent of states where predominantly Black schools have at least twice as many inexperienced teachers, nonprofit education news site The 74 reports on the study.

Novice teachers tend to lack the skills to motivate underachieving students, encourage them to complete homework assignments and to reduce absenteeism, Education Trust said. There’s a steep learning curve in the first few years of an educator’s career.

“Ultimately, teachers are the number one predictor of student success inside the classroom, estimated to have two to three times the effect of any other in-school factor,” Education Trust noted.

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The report blames, in part, systemic discriminatory policies for the ongoing disparities. Under-resourced school districts lack the budget to hire lots seasoned educators, and those districts also have a high rate of teacher turnover.

The problem is longstanding. An analysis of 2011 - 2012 U.S. Department of Education data found that schools with predominantly Black, Latino and American Indian students were more likely to attend schools with a higher concentration of novice teachers, according to Education Week.

Among the recommended solutions, the report calls on state officials to establish data systems to uncover patterns of disparities among school districts. “This important step is predicated on a commitment by states to collecting, disaggregating, and publicly reporting teacher equity data, disaggregated by race,” Education Trust said.

With data in hand, policymakers should set clear goals and interim measures for success, along with a commitment to transparency and accountability, the researchers recommended.

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