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Core Problems: Out-of-Field Teaching Persists In Key Academic Courses and High-Poverty Schools

Abstract

"In America's secondary schools, low-income students and students of color are about twice as likely as other students to be enrolled in core academic classes taught by out-of-field teachers (those who possess neither certification in the subject they have been assigned to teach nor an academic major in that subject.)

While out-of-field teaching is particularly acute in mathematics and in high-poverty and high-minority schools, the problem is pervasive. Nationwide, more than 17 percent of all core academic courses (English, math, social studies, and science) in grades 7-12 are taught by an out-of-field teacher. In the middle grades alone, the rate jumps to 40 percent.

These data, from an analysis by Richard M. Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania, underscore one of the most pressing challenges facing our schools, our policymakers, and our nation: ensuring that all students have access to the strong teachers they need to succeed in school and beyond."

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