A new CALDER/Urban Institute report, “Value Added of Teachers in High?Poverty Schools and Lower?Poverty Schools” compared the effectiveness of teachers working in high-poverty and low-poverty schools in Florida and North Carolina.

So, how do we improve teacher quality in low income schools? The authors argue that school systems should bus wealthy students to high poverty schools. Just kidding.

According to researchers,

The results show that the average effectiveness of teachers in high-poverty schools is in general less than teachers in other schools, but only slightly, and not in all comparisons.


The observed differences in teacher quality between high-poverty and lower-poverty schools are not due to differences in the observed characteristics of teachers, such as experience, certification status and educational attainment.


Taken together, results from the two states cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that teacher quality in high-poverty schools is uniformly worse than in lower-poverty schools.

The explanation offered by the researchers is somewhat complicated, but they argue that the key is the “setting in which the experience is acquired.” My takeaway is that policy makers should pay more attention to in-school, rather than between-school, differences in teacher quality.