Study – A troubling pattern of teacher assignments within schools

I used to teach upper high school science; I eventually quit because I realized that I was being fed kids from lower grades who didn’t have the basis of a good science education and that, at a late stage in their education, I had no real control over improving their understanding – starting at 16 is too late.

At some point in my second year I was made party to the process that my head of department used to “sort” through the children from middle school and select them into classes which he then assigned preferentially to the more experienced teachers. He gave each kid a very qualitative “rating” based mostly on behaviour and whether he knew the kids’ parents. He was shit at using Excel so he had me input the data and then sort it for him. Obviously he ended up with the best ones.

While there’s nothing explicitly wrong with that, there is an arguable moral terpitude associated with it – a form of corruption which you may or may not agree exists. My answer was to get out; now I work outside of teaching.

From personal experience, I definitely agree with the quote below, and the authors of the article that is referred to in this link to the original piece.





Using extensive data from Miami-Dade, the authors compared the average achievement of teachers’ students in the year before the students were assigned to them. They discovered that certain teachers—those with less experience, those from less-competitive colleges, female teachers, and black and Hispanic teachers—are more likely to work with lower-achieving students than are other teachers in the same school.

According to the researchers, teachers who have been at a school for a long time may be able to influence the assignment process in order to secure their preferred classes—for instance, classes with higher-achieving students. The study found that teachers with 10 or more years of experience, as well as teachers who have held leadership positions, are assigned higher-achieving students on average.

Assigning lower-achieving students to inexperienced teachers could have significant repercussions.

According to the researchers, it could increase turnover among new teachers, since novice teachers are more likely to quit when assigned more low-achieving students.