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ERIC Number: ED498033
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Dec
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The Organization of Schools as an Overlooked Source of Underqualified Teaching. Teaching Quality Policy Briefs. Number 7
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy
The study reported in this policy brief focuses on one aspect of unequal distribution of quality teaching--out-of-field placement. In schools serving primarily low-income and/or minority students, out-of-field teaching is an acute problem and occurs even though the causes have little to do with the lack of certified teachers. Rather, school district policies and decisions made by school leadership often create inequalities in teaching quality within schools. Quality teaching has many dimensions, but in order to use large-scale data, this study limits the definition to teachers' education, training, and experience. The first stage of analysis in this study describes statistically the levels of teacher education, certification, experience, and out-of-field placement and the extent to which these levels vary according to school poverty, minority enrollments, and the degree of urbanicity of the schools. The second stage of analysis looks at other factors linking out-of-field teaching to demographic characteristics of the students, to the teacher deficit perspective, and to an organizational perspective. A more advanced statistical analysis is used to analyze the association of various factors with out-of- field teaching at the secondary level, based on a sub-sample of more than 23,000 teachers in grades 7-12 (excluding those working in middle schools). The last stage examines the relationship between the amount of out-of-field teaching and the measures of administrative practices and organizational characteristics, while controlling for the other three independent variables. The study finds that out-of-field teaching is not primarily due to a deficit in either the quality or the quantity of teachers. Rather, it has to do with the manner in which schools are organized and teachers are assigned. Improving the assignment of teachers already employed in the schools could raise teacher quality as a low-cost alternative to other strategies now being used. On the other hand,some of the current reform strategies, such as smaller classes and smaller schools, might work against efforts to reduce out-of-field teaching. (Contains 1 table.)
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP). University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195-3600. Tel: 206-221-4114; Fax: 206-616-8158; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattle, WA.