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High-poverty Schools Often Staffed by Rotating Cast of Substitutes

Mya Alford dreams of studying chemical engineering in college, but the high school junior is at a disadvantage: Last year, her chemistry teacher at Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse Academy quit just weeks after school started, and the class was taught by a substitute who, as Alford put it, “didn’t know chemistry.”

The year before, there was no permanent biology teacher until December. Students at Westinghouse, a high-poverty school in one of Pittsburgh’s roughest neighborhoods, often see a rotating cast of substitutes, Alford said.

“You’re looking at test scores,” Alford said of the school’s low performance on state standardized tests in math, science and reading. “But we didn’t have a stable teacher.”