No Difference Found Between Teachers in Wealthy, Poor Areas

Educators who teach in lower-income areas are similar in terms of education level and seniority to teachers who work in wealthier areas.

This finding flies in the face of both conventional wisdom and studies conducted abroad, which hold that good teachers tend to end up at "strong" schools.

It comes from a recently released study conducted by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.

The study examined data on file with the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Education Ministry on about 57,000 elementary-school teachers, checking parameters such as age, professional seniority, level and type of education attained and the nature of the educational institution where they studied (university or college). These characteristics are accepted indicators of teaching standards.

The figures indicated that seniority and educational levels among teachers at schools serving student from higher socioeconomic backgrounds were only slightly higher than at "weaker" schools.

Almost no differences were found between the two groups in the remaining parameters. For example, 49 percent of teachers whose students are in the lowest socioeconomic decile have at least an undergraduate degree, compared to 49.9 percent of those teaching the highest decile.

According to the research team, which was led by Nachum Blass, this is a "surprising and very significant finding.

The fact that students at schools that serve disadvantaged populations study with teachers who have the same level of education and the same teaching seniority as students at schools serving wealthier populations contrasts sharply with the published researched on the subject."

The researchers go on to say in their study that in light of these findings it is difficult to point to differences between teachers to explain the large gaps in the results of the Education Ministry's Growth and Effectiveness Measures for Schools (GEMS) tests and in international exams testing students from various socioeconomic levels.