Equitable access to capable teachers: The states respond


  • Gary Sykes Educational Testing Service
  • Kacy Martin Michigan State University




equity, access, teacher policy


This study examined a sample of plans that states submitted to the U.S. Education Department in 2015, pursuant to requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I, Part A. Plans were aimed at redressing inequities in access to qualified teachers as this problem has emerged in states and districts across the country. A considerable body of research has demonstrated that teachers are inequitably distributed to the disadvantage of low income and historically under-served students.  Based on descriptive and inferential coding of these plans, the study reaches several conclusions. First, the federal planning mandate has served as an impetus for developing state data systems that track teacher distributions.  Second, many of the strategies states are proposing are not directly relevant, targeted, or fully committed in terms of resources and implementation. Third, in states with highly rated plans, the strategies address fundamental, underlying conditions while offering a comprehensive range of targeted strategies to improve recruitment, support, and retention of teachers in schools serving concentrations of low income and under-served students. Progress on this issue is underway with much that remains to be done.


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Author Biographies

Gary Sykes, Educational Testing Service

Gary Sykes is a principal research scientist in the Understanding Teaching Quality Center at Educational Testing Service (ETS).  He joined ETS after 25 years on the faculty at Michigan State University, where he concentrated his scholarly and advocacy-oriented work on teaching, teacher education, and policy directed to teaching.  He was active in the launch of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and served as research director for the Holmes Group, a network of teacher education institutions devoted to the reform of teacher education.  His publications include the editorship with Lee Shulman of the Handbook of Teaching and Policy (1983), with Linda Darling-Hammond of Teaching as the Learning Profession (1999), and with Barbara Schneider and David Plank of the Handbook of Education Policy Research (2009).

Kacy Martin, Michigan State University

Kacy Martin is in the Education Policy program at Michigan State University. After completing a bachelor and master's degrees at the University of Michigan, Kacy Martin taught in the Chicago Public Schools, serving on the Instructional Leadership Team and creating professional learning cycles to improve teacher practices in reading instruction. Her research focuses on the impact of parent social networks on school choice in urban districts, the relationship between urban planning and school enrollment, and the politics of education finance at the local and state levels.




How to Cite

Sykes, G., & Martin, K. (2019). Equitable access to capable teachers: The states respond. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27, 39. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.3743



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