The status of teacher quality in rural high schools: a descriptive analysis
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The purpose of this study is (1) to ascertain the nature of teacher quality in rural schools; (2) to determine the extent to which rural teachers meet the standards set by NCLB requirements for highly qualified teachers; and (3) to search for patterns of regional differences in the demographic characteristics and/or academic qualifications of rural high school teachers. The study utilizes survey research as the method for data collection. The research findings are derived from a secondary analysis of an existing large, comprehensive, nationally representative survey dataset of public school teachers collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. The analysis of data concerning the quality of the rural high school teaching force provides valuable information to a variety of education stakeholders who are working to address the teacher quality issue— rural school administrators, policymakers, and educational researchers. To date, limited research has been conducted on this issue in the U.S. Major findings from research question one were: The race/ethnicity of rural high school teachers is more homogeneous than any other group of high school teachers. On average, the more rural the school district, the less diverse the race/ethnicity of the high school teaching force. The average age of a rural high school teacher is 42 and there are approximately 55 percent female and 45 percent male teachers in rural high schools. Major findings from research question two were: There are major disparities for rural high school teachers in terms of advanced degrees. The vast majority of rural high school teachers earn their teaching certificate through a bachelor’s degree program. When examining rural high school core subject area teachers, the findings reveal that 42 percent of these teachers are teaching out-of-field in at least one core subject area. Major findings from research question three were: Approximately 98 percent of rural high school teachers hold a bachelor’s degree and 96 percent hold a teaching certificate in their main teaching assignment. After controlling for the subject matter competency variable, it was determined that at most 92 percent of rural high school teachers meet the highly qualified teacher requirements set forth in NCLB. Major findings from research question four were: Rural high school teachers in the Western states chose to leave their schools an average of three years earlier than teachers in other states. Rural high schools experience less teacher turnover than other geographic areas even though they earn an average of $5,000 less than high school teachers in other areas of the U.S. and $8,000 than the average urban high school teacher.