Staffing High-Poverty, Low-Performing Schools

Staffing high-poverty, low-performing schools with the most effective teachers and administrators is one of the most daunting challenges facing our nation. It is also one of the most important.

Poor and minority students, who disproportionately attend these schools, are far less likely than their peers in other schools to have access to the most qualified teachers and school leaders. This staffing gap is especially troubling in light of recent research that confirms what common sense has long suggested: Good teachers and leaders have a large impact on student achievement. Most importantly, they can help close the long-standing achievement gaps that seriously limit the opportunities of our most vulnerable students.

Since 2003, leaders of the Learning First Alliance’s member organizations have engaged in concentrated study of the problem and intensive dialogue on how to solve it. In the course of these efforts, Alliance members have identified a systemic set of actions for addressing the staffing gap:

School Leadership: Ensure that high-poverty, low-performing schools have effective leaders.

Working Conditions: Make the job “doable” with adequate resource staff, manageable class sizes, and a safe, supportive environment free of major plant problems.

Professional Support: Provide intense teacher support so that teachers succeed in challenging classrooms.

Incentives: Compensate staff for taking on tougher assignments working in high-poverty, low-performing schools. Recognize and reward improvements they make.

Preparation: Ensure that teachers and leaders are prepared to be effective in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

Hiring and Placement: Create processes and practices that facilitate the timely hiring and placement of effective teachers in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

Policy Coherence: Establish a coherent set of federal, state and local policies that promote recruitment and retention of effective teachers for challenged schools.

Funding: Ensure adequate and equitable funding based on student needs.

Alliance leaders urge educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders to address these eight action areas in collaborative efforts to improve recruitment and retention of effective teachers for hard-to-staff schools.


Alliance Publication on Staffing High-Poverty, Low-Performing Schools

The Alliance has developed a Framework for Action to help guide the collaborative efforts of LFA organizations, their affiliates, and other stakeholders to ensure all students access to highly-effective educators. This Framework lays out a case for action and offers more detailed descriptions of the eight action areas listed above.