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Research Recap

Click here for a short video on research findings featuring Eric Isenberg and Jeffrey Max.


Fact Sheet

TQD Fact Sheet


At a Glance


U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Project Time Frame:



Access to Effective Teaching for Disadvantaged Students

Press Release | Fact Sheet | Full Report | Video

Federal education initiatives such as Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the flexibility policy for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, are designed in part to ensure that disadvantaged students have equal access to effective teaching. These initiatives respond to the concern that disadvantaged students may be taught by less effective teachers and that this could contribute to the achievement gap between them and their nondisadvantaged peers.

To address the need for evidence on this issue, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences commissioned a study, carried out by Mathematica Policy Research and its partner, the American Institutes for Research, to examine access to effective teaching for disadvantaged students in 29 diverse school districts. The study focused on English/language arts (ELA) and math teachers in grades 4 through 8 from the 2008-2009 to the 2010-2011 school year.

Key findings include:

  • Disadvantaged students received less effective teaching, on average, than other students in the 29 study districts.
  • Providing equal access to effective teaching for the two sets of students would reduce the gap in achievement between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged students from 28 to 26 percentile points in ELA and from 26 to 24 percentile points in math in a given year.
  • Access to effective teaching for disadvantaged students varied across school districts. 
  • Unequal access to effective teaching was primarily the result of how teachers and students were spread across schools rather than how principals assigned teachers to students within schools.

Upcoming Reports

The next report in this series will describe patterns of teacher hiring, mobility, and attrition. The final report will update all results based on an additional two years of data.


"Do Disadvantaged Students Get Less Effective Teaching?" (January 2014) Brief | Technical Appendix

"Access to Effective Teaching for Disadvantaged Students" (November 2013) Full Report | Executive Summary