Report: NC's low-performing schools hire more low-performing teachers

Posted January 7, 2016

— Last month, State Board of Education member Olivia Holmes Oxendine asked staff at the Department of Public Instruction about the quality of teachers at low-performing schools. This week, she got her answer.

"There is a difference in who they hire," said Thomas Tomberlin, DPI's director of district human resources. "Teachers they hire are more low performing (compared with higher performing schools) ... If this trend continues, these schools have very little chance of getting out of low-performing status."

Tomberlin presented a report showing that, last school year, 28 percent of newly hired, experienced teachers in North Carolina's low-performing schools did not meet expected growth, compared with 19 percent in higher-performing schools. The growth was based on student test scores.

"A greater percentage of experienced teachers in schools with a low-performing designation are on full evaluation plans, suggesting that these experienced teachers have instructional deficiencies," according to Tomberlin's report. "There are no meaningful differences between low-performing designated schools and non low-performing designated schools in early-career teachers or teacher attrition."

The school board discussed the possibility of teacher "stagnation," the difficulties teachers face in low-performing schools and whether they are getting the resources they need.

"It's a system problem, not a teacher problem," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "It's also a question of teacher load at schools."


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  • Jackie Brooks Jan 8, 2016
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    No it's not, June. Go teach in one of those schools for 2 weeks, with no administrative support on discipline. Many of those teachers have potential but are burned out. Try this: stop seeing poor kids as incapable of behaving. Put in a real discipline plan and backup those teachers. Give them back their classrooms. You not only will see the kids improve but you will be amazed by the number of high performing teachers who will apply to teach there. And it is all free!

  • Roy Hinkley Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

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    You missed the key word..."growth".

    When looking at a student's growth, the actual test result is not important, it's how the current year result compares to previous results.

    Suppose you have a kid you has always scored 50% on tests in the past several years. If you teach them this year and they score 40%, then you failed to meet expected growth (we would predict the kid should get 50% as they always have). If they score 50%, you met growth. If they score 60% you exceeded expected growth.

    That is what Tomberlin was talking about, a larger percentage of teachers in low performing schools are not meeting expected growth.

  • Leslie Klatt Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    Oh really? Are you sure it has nothing to with the fact that the kids at these schools do not have the support at home they need? I do want the teacher to try to teach my son but if he isn't motivated to do his part I cannot blame the teacher.

  • Kathleen Newberg Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    We've got the wrong people in education administration in Raleigh. This article proves that.

  • Dylan Collins Jan 7, 2016
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    This article is not really helpful in any way. Yes, teachers who are at underperforming schools based on test scores would obviously be considered underperforming teachers too if you are basing it off test scores. Why is this a news story? The real news story should be about the continued lack of leadership in NC government in education. Their policy is to cut funding to schools and then complain about teachers test scores while doing nothing to help improve school programs. I work in a public school in special education and it's just sad what Tillis, Berger and McCrory do to destroy education in this state while never stepping foot in a classroom to understand what it's like. And yet they make all the decisions. We need new leadership in this state that puts emphasis on improving education and improving our youths future.

  • Amy Clayton Jan 7, 2016
    user avatar

    so, so glad I am retired. This type of discussion is ridiculous.

  • Shay Vaughn Jan 7, 2016
    user avatar

    There seems to be an agenda of the current power group to target experienced teachers. If a school is already a low performing school, it is common sense that the teachers there will have a lower percentage of success. The factors that ensure the growth of students can not be laid only at the feet of teachers. It starts with prenatal care, socio-economic status, and many other variables.