Lost Opportunity to Understand Ways to Retain and Attract Strong Teachers into High-Need Schools

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Report fails to provide tools to prevent patterns of inequity in students’ access to strong teachers.

Tackling Gaps in Access to Strong Teachers: What State Leaders Can Do, authored by Rachel Metz and Allison Rose Socol, and published by The Education Trust, draws on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) documents and state teacher equity plans to provide guidance to state leaders, including some sound advice—but with significant omissions.

Doris A. Santoro, Professor at Bowdoin College, reviewed the report and found it fails to engage with thorny issues around alternative pathways into teaching, and also largely skirts issues around incentives for supporting teacher recruitment and retention in hard-to-staff schools.

The report also does not consider what attracts teachers into the profession and into particular school environments. Likewise, it fails to draw on the explicit remedies sought by ESSA to link high-quality leadership with strong teacher recruitment and retention. Instead, Professor Santoro finds, the report casts the teacher-equity problem primarily in terms of labor supply shortages and treats teachers like interchangeable widgets. Relying heavily on advocacy sources, it misses an opportunity to unpack the root causes of the teacher-retention problem, particularly the arguably corrosive impact of past federal and state policies on the teaching profession.

The report does not help state leaders understand how they might build incentives and cultures that draw strong teachers into high-need schools, and they will thus be left with an incomplete and insufficient set of tools for ensuring that all students have equitable access to excellent educators.

Find the review, by Doris A. Santoro, at:

Find Tackling Gaps in Access to Strong Teachers: What State Leaders Can Do, by Rachel Metz and Allison Rose Socol, published by The Education Trust, at:

Find Documents:
Press Release: nepc.info/node/8937
NEPC Review: nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-retention
Report Reviewed: edtrust.org/resource/tackling-gaps-access-strong-teachers/

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

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William J. Mathis

Doris A. Santoro
Bowdoin College
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since: 09/2010
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