Black, Hispanic Students Tend to Have Less Experienced Math Teachers

By Liana Loewus — January 26, 2016 1 min read
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Black and Hispanic students are much more likely to have an 8th grade math teacher with five or fewer years’ experience than are their white and Asian peers, according to a new analysis of NAEP survey data.

The results shouldn’t come as a surprise. Any number of studies have shown that disadvantaged, nonwhite students have less access to high-quality teachers. And there’s good proof that experience begets quality, at least to a point—a recent study found that the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for the first 10 years of teaching, and possibly longer. (Previous research pointed to a sharp rise in effectiveness during the first couple of years of teaching, followed by a plateau.)

The recent analysis of 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress data shows that 36 percent of black students and 33 percent of Hispanic students have a math teacher who has taught secondary math for five years or less. That’s compared to 27 percent of white students and 23 percent of Asian students who have math teachers with that little experience.

The gap is seen at the most veteran experience levels as well. Seventeen percent of white and Asian students have math teachers with 21 or more years’ experience. Just 9 percent of black students and 12 percent of Hispanic students have teachers with that much time under their belts.

The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, sent the infographic above to reporters last week. Bill Bushaw, the executive director of the governing board, said it’s part of a new effort to alert people to the plethora of data publicly available on the NAEP website. In addition to subject test scores, “we have this contextual data provided by students, teachers, and the school itself,” he explained. “We’re going to dive in and look for various relationships anywhere we can find them.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.