Report

Teachers of Low-Income Students Are Nearly as Effective as Teachers of High-Income Students
Mathematica Policy Research

Although children from wealthier families outperform children from poorer families on achievement tests, a new study from Mathematica Policy Research finds that teachers of low-income students are nearly as effective as teachers of high-income students, on average.

The two groups also have similar chances of being taught by the most and least effective teachers. In addition, teacher hiring and mobility patterns are consistent with small differences in access to effective teachers. The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, assessed low-income students’ access to effective teachers in grades 4 through 8.

It examined 26 school districts nationwide over a five-year period. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, we found only small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students in our study districts.

This suggests that the achievement gap arises from factors other than students’ access to effective teachers,” said Mathematica Senior Researcher Eric Isenberg, the principal investigator. Details are available in the study snapshot, executive summary, and full report.