Report: Minority students have more ineffective teachers

Students from poor families in Louisiana are more likely to have ineffective teachers than their wealthier classmates, according to a report issued Friday.

Minority students face the same disparities on teacher quality compared to others, a study by the Center for American Progress shows.

“Based on the new evaluation data, a student in a school in the highest-poverty quartile is almost three times as likely to be taught by a teacher rated ineffective as a student in a school in the lowest-poverty quartile,” the report says.

“Looking at the distribution of teachers by minority enrollment in schools, students in schools with high minority enrollment are more than twice as likely to have an ineffective teacher as students in schools with low minority enrollment,” it says.

However, the Ascension Parish school system was singled out for praise.

The group calls itself an independent, nonpartisan institute in Washington, D.C., dedicated to improvements through progressive ideas and action.

The review focused on Louisiana and Massachusetts, which were among the earliest states to adopt new teacher evaluation systems.

Teachers here are rated as highly effective, effective/proficient, effective/emerging and ineffective.

Half of the ratings are generally based on the growth of student achievement and the other half on classroom observations by principals.

Backers say the new reviews will improve student achievement by boosting teacher quality. Opponents say the annual checks are flawed.

The report cites the highly rated Ascension Parish school system and its superintendent, Patrice Pujol, as an example of a district that has taken steps to ensure that all students have top-flight teachers.

Teachers classified as highly effective make up 13.4 percent of the district’s highest poverty schools compared to 12.5 percent of those with the lowest poverty, according to the study.

The second-highest rated teachers make up 74.1 percent of schools with the most poverty and 74.3 percent of the schools with the lowest poverty.

The group said disparities can be addressed by states using data in assigning teachers to schools and classrooms, offering incentives for highly rated teachers to work in troubled schools and retaining teachers through higher pay.

Asked if state Superintendent of Education John White or other officials wanted to comment, Barry Landry, a spokesman for the department, said in a prepared statement that the study used classroom observations by principals as the key measure of teacher effectiveness, which he said distorted the results.