Educator evaluation ratings, average teacher salary, diversity of teachers, teacher turnover rate, and percent of classes taught by highly qualified teachers
Teacher qualities consist of characteristics of an educator, such as evaluation ratings, subject matter knowledge, and cultural diversity, which have an impact on student outcomes.
Why do teacher qualities matter?
High-quality teachers have significant impacts on student outcomes. Studies have shown that teacher qualifications and performance are linked to improved subject-area performance (1), accelerated learning (2), and even income in adulthood (3).
Teachers who have earned advanced degrees have a positive impact on high school mathematics and science achievement when degrees earned are in those subjects (1). A national study determined that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics (7). Another study shows that students in grades 4 through 8 learn as much as a full year more from high performing teachers compared with low performing teachers (2).
An analysis of teacher diversity prepared by the National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force found that increasing the percentage of teachers of color in classrooms is connected directly to closing the achievement gap. (8). A study on school co-ethnicity and Hispanic parental involvement found that immigrant parents are more involved in schools with a greater Hispanic presence (10). Teachers of color serve as critical role models for all children, especially for students of racial and ethnic minority groups, and are particularly suited to teaching minority students because they bring to their work an inherent understanding of the backgrounds and experiences of these learners (11).
Factors such as teacher salaries and turnover rates have also been found to impact student achievement. One study determined that there is a relationship between the salary of teachers and the results they achieve with their students on standard tests (4). Results of another study indicate that students in grade-levels with higher teacher turnover score lower in both ELA and math and that this effect is particularly strong in schools with more low-performing and black students (9).
How do we measure teacher qualities?
The Public Policy Center measures teacher qualities through the following indicators: educator evaluations ratings, average teacher salary, diversity of teachers, teacher turnover rate, and percent of classes taught by highly qualified teachers. All of this data is publicly available through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). All calculations were performed by DESE, except where otherwise noted.
Educator evaluation ratings are based primarily on observations and items like student work and lesson plans. In the next few years, student achievement data such as standardized test scores will be incorporated. Superintendents were given the responsibility for evaluation and then designated the individual evaluators.
The total amount of teaching salaries is divided by the number of full-time equivalent teachers to find the average teacher salary.
Teacher turnover rate is calculated by dividing the number of teachers who left in a given year by the total number of full-time equivalent teachers employed by the school district.
Diversity of teachers is collected in seven race/ethnicity categories: African American, Asian, Hispanic, White, Native, American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Multi-Race (Non-Hispanic). The percentage for each category is calculated by dividing the number of teachers in each category by the total number of full-time equivalent teachers employed by the school district.
Highly qualified teachers are defined as teachers holding a Massachusetts teaching license at the Preliminary, Initial, or Professional level and demonstrating subject matter competency in the areas they teach. Core academic areas include English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography. The percentage of core academic classes taught by highly qualified teachers is calculated by dividing the number of highly qualified educators, measured in “full-time equivalency”, who are teaching core academic areas by the total number of teachers employed by the school district.
How is Fall River doing?
1. Percent of teachers rated proficient: 72.2%
The chart below presents the ratings for Fall River educators across all schools, with a comparison of results from the district as a whole and the state. Blue denotes all the educators rated in the ‘unsatisfactory’ category, red in the ‘needs improvement,’ yellow in the ‘proficient,’ and green in the ‘exemplary’ category. Ratings across all schools vary greatly, ranging from as low as 0 percent of teachers that need improvement to as high as 37.5 percent. Exemplary teachers comprise from 0 to 14.6 percent and unsatisfactory from 0 to 6.3 percent. No correlation could be found between school performance and educator ratings. These schools’ performance is drastically lower than the state average, but their educator ratings are about the same. The ratings look drastically different in New Bedford, with significantly fewer ‘unsatisfactory’ educators and many more ‘exemplary’ educators.
2. Average teacher salary: $69,591
In 2015, the average Fall River teacher salary was significantly below the state average of $76,442. The average teacher salary of the city has experienced a slight decrease since 2014 when it was $66,693. With the exception of FY10 and FY11, Fall River lags behind New Bedford and other Gateway Cities in its average teacher salary amount. The value of a salary reflects years of experience as teachers earn more the longer they teach, according to a pay scale determined by teachers contract.
3. Percent full-time teachers who are non-white: 5.1%
White teachers make up the overwhelming majority of the educators in both Fall River and the state. White students in Fall River (57.6%) have a smaller majority than the rest of the state (62.1%). Fall River’s Hispanic student population is slightly higher than the Commonwealth as a whole (23.6% to 18.9%). Significantly, the number of Hispanic teachers has risen (1.495) to match the increasing Hispanic population of this Gateway City. It is important to note that while they are included in the “white” category, Fall River’s large Portuguese population plays a significant role in the cultural diversity of Fall River teachers.
4. Teacher turnover rate: 23.6%
In 2015, 174 teachers left Fall River (23.6%), as compared to 140 in New Bedford (16.8%) and 9,682 in MA overall (13.2%). Fall River has had one of the highest teacher turnover rate in the last several years – higher than New Bedford, Lowell, Worcester, and the state average.
5. Percent of classes taught by highly qualified teachers: 93.6%
For the 2013-2014 school year in Fall River, 93.6 percent of core academic classes were taught by educators who are highly qualified. In New Bedford and statewide, the proportions of core academic classes taught by highly qualified educators for the same school year were 91 percent and 95.5 percent, respectively. Over the last five years, Fall River has had a higher percentage of highly qualified educators teaching core academic classes than New Bedford, but lower than the state average.
How is New Bedford doing?
1. Percent of teachers rated proficient: 82.2%
The chart below presents the ratings for New Bedford educators across all schools, with a comparison of results from the district as a whole and the state. Blue denotes all the educators rated in the ‘unsatisfactory’ category, red in the ‘needs improvement,’ yellow in the ‘proficient,’ and green in the ‘exemplary’ category. Ratings across all schools vary greatly, ranging from as low as 0 percent of teachers that need improvement to as high as 25.9 percent. Exemplary teachers comprise from 0 to 19.3 percent and unsatisfactory from 0 to 7.1 percent. No correlation could be found between school performance and educator ratings. The ratings look drastically different in Fall River, with significantly more ‘unsatisfactory’ educators and many fewer ‘exemplary’ educators.
2. Average teacher salary: $70,207
In 2015, the average New Bedford teacher salary was slightly higher than the state average ($76,442). It increased by almost $4,000 from in 2014. In Fall River, the 2015 average teacher salary was $69,591, which was far below the state average. Value of salary reflects years of experience, as teachers earn more the longer they teach, according to a pay scale determined by teachers contract. It also reflects teacher performance due to a contract that was negotiated in New Bedford that provides performance pay for teachers.
3. Percent full-time teachers who are non-white: 10.2%
Hispanic students account for 37.4 percent of New Bedford’s student population, nearly double the state average of 18.9 percent. Interestingly, only 4.66 percent of New Bedford’s teachers are Hispanic, and only 3.9 percent are statewide. Slightly less than half (44%) of New Bedford’s students are non-white, compared with 62.1 percent statewide, but New Bedford teachers, like their peers statewide, are about 90 percent white.
4. Teacher turnover rate: 15.76%
In 2014, 139 teachers left New Bedford (15.76%), as compared to 173 in Fall River (23.01%) and 7,446 in MA overall (10.12%). New Bedford has had a low teacher turnover rate for the last few years – much lower than Fall River and Lawrence, and Worcester.
5. Percent of classes taught by highly qualified teachers: 91%
For the 2013-2014 school year in New Bedford, 91 percent of core academic classes were taught by educators who are highly qualified. In Fall River and statewide, the proportions of core academic classes taught by highly qualified educators for the same school year were 93.6 percent and 95.5 percent, respectively. Over the last five years, New Bedford has had a lower percentage of highly qualified educators teaching core academic classes than Fall River and state averages.
What’s being done to address teacher qualities, and where can I learn more?
The US Department of Education created Race to the Top (RTT) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide incentives for states to reform K-12 education in areas such as improving the lowest performing schools and developing effective teachers and leaders. In 2010, 12 states (one of which is Massachusetts) were awarded nearly $4 billion in RTT grant funds to spend over 4 years. A review of RTT teacher and principal evaluation systems can be found in this report. By school year 2012-13, 6 of 12 Race to The Top (RTT) states fully implemented their evaluation systems. The remaining six states either piloted or partially implemented (5).
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) advocates for reforms in a broad range of teacher policies at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase the number of effective teachers. In this report, it evaluates teacher effectiveness policies of each state nationwide. NCTQ also works in communities to provide customized analyses of district human capital policies, primarily focusing on the teachers’ contract (6). According to this report by NCTQ, in 2009, only 14 states required annual evaluations of all teachers, with some states allowing teachers to go five or more years between evaluations. By the end of 2012, 23 states began to require annual evaluations for all teachers.
The National Education Association (NEA) has published a report with policy recommendation on increasing teacher diversity. NEA has developed an aggressive advocacy agenda focused on teacher quality and diversity, which includes promoting the development of early intervention and minority pipeline programs for high school and college students, such as teacher career academies and future educator programs; advocating for high-quality teacher preparation and licensure programs, such as national accreditation and teacher residency programs; and building partnerships and alliances, including expanding the work of an NEA-initiated National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force.
Massachusetts has implemented multiple strategies and initiatives focused on increasing the number of highly qualified teachers throughout the state. In 1993, the Massachusetts Education Reform Act elevated the standards by which individuals become teachers as well as improved the conditions that impact the profession, such as professional development, beginning teacher support and induction, educator recruitment, and career advancement. In 2006, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) had created a set of licensure regulations requiring a full year of mentoring and induction in every teacher’s first year of employment along with a strong focus on content knowledge aligned with the State’s Curriculum Frameworks (student learning standards). Additionally, a relicensure process was implemented for all veteran educators, requiring these educators to participate in professional development activities in the content of their license.
In 2008, Governor Patrick announced his Education Action Agenda, a robust plan aimed to individualize learning, develop and retain effective teachers, heighten focus on college and career readiness, and unleash innovation and systemic change. Then Massachusetts submitted the RTT proposal, of which developing and retaining an effective, academically capable, diverse, and culturally competent educator workforce was a primary objective.
The United States Department of Education’s (USDE) required that each state submit a revised plan for meeting the highly qualified teacher (HQT) goal of 100%. This document outlines the plan that DESE is implementing in order to ensure that all courses throughout the state are taught by highly qualified and effective educators.
On November 2013, for the first time in Massachusetts, teacher evaluation ratings were released for more than 200 school districts for the 2012-2013 school year. This was prompted by the requirement for all Race to the Top (RTT) districts to implement the new education evaluation framework. Previously, schools simply noted whether educators did or did not meet expectations, if educators were rated at all. Teacher evaluation data was reported by school and district for teachers and just district-wide for administrators. Ratings for each educator were not reported.
The MA Department of Higher Education currently administers the Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program, funded by the Title II: Part A of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The goal of this funding is to improve student academic achievement through initiatives grounded in scientific research that provide high-quality training for teachers. The Department administers these funds by awarding competitive sub-grants to eligible partnerships of higher education institutions and high-need public schools. These partnerships use grant funds to conduct professional development activities in core academic subjects for teachers, paraprofessionals, and principals.
Data sources and methods:
All data, unless otherwise noted, was found on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education website. Specifically, it was gathered from the teachers tab on the district profiles page.
(1) Rice, Jennifer King. Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes. Economic Policy Institute, 1660 L Street, NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20035, 2003.
(2) “Photo Finish: Which Teachers Are Better? Certification Status Isn’t Going to Tell Us,” (with Thomas J. Kane and Douglas O. Staiger) Education Next, Winter 2007.
(3) Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff. The long-term impacts of teachers: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood. No. w17699. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011.
(4) Dolton, Peter, and Oscar D. Marcenaro‐Gutierrez. “If you pay peanuts do you get monkeys? A cross‐country analysis of teacher pay and pupil performance.”Economic policy 26.65 (2011): 5-55.
(7) Darling-Hammond, Linda. Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Seattle, WA: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, 1999.
(9) Ronfeldt, Matthew, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff. “How teacher turnover harms student achievement.” American Educational Research Journal 50.1 (2013): 4-36.
(10) Klugman, J., Lee, J. C., & Nelson, S. L. (2012). School co-ethnicity and Hispanic parental involvement. Social Science Research, 41(5), 1320–1337.