Teachers in Missouri’s poorest and most rural schools are less experienced and make less money than those in the state’s wealthiest schools, new state data show.
The data is part of a draft report that Missouri is submitting to the U.S. Education Department amid a federal push to ensure that the least experienced people aren’t disproportionately teaching the neediest students.
Missouri’s next step is to work with educators and administrators to analyze the data and come up with strategies for addressing the situation, said Paul Katnik, an assistant commissioner who is overseeing the plan’s creation. He said the challenge is recruiting teachers to where they are most needed and retaining them.
“We found in some instances that the very rural schools and the more poor schools shared the inequities of educational opportunity,” Katnik said. But he added: “While they might experience the same educational inequity, the strategies might be different.”
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President Barack Obama announced in July the new teacher-equity initiative, for which the Education Department asked states to develop plans to make sure every student has an effective teacher. The plans for all states are due in June.
Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, the Dallas Independent School District and a group of 21 rural districts in Ohio are submitting plans earlier so the federal government can determine what type of help other states will need to develop their own, Katnik said.
Teachers in Missouri’s wealthiest schools earned an adjusted average salary of $59,794.06, the report shows, compared to $49,733.95 in the poorest schools and $48,219.20 in the most rural schools.
Teacher experience also varied depending on the type of school. The average teacher in the wealthiest schools had 13.72 years of experience, compared to 9.97 for the poorest schools and 12.1 for the rural schools. Furthermore, 6.8 percent of the teachers in the state’s wealthiest schools are in their first year, compared to 15.4 percent of the teachers in the state’s poorest schools and 13.9 percent in the state’s most rural schools.
The report defines the state’s poorest schools as 110 with the highest free- and reduced-price lunch enrollment, while the wealthiest were the 110 schools with the lowest subsidized lunch enrollment. No fewer than 91.9 percent of students qualified for subsidized meals in the poorest schools and no more than 16.4 percent in the wealthiest schools.
The National Center for Education Statistics identified that there were 315 schools in the most rural areas of Missouri, which saw 60.4 percent of students enrolled for free and reduced-price lunches.
The poor schools also had higher percentages of minority students, 86.3 percent, compared to 16.62 percent for the wealthy schools and 3.6 percent for the rural schools.