The Qualifications of Teachers in American High Schools
This Note describes the formal qualifications of the teachers currently teaching in America's public high schools and attempts to determine whether those qualifications vary appreciably among schools with different characteristics. The analysis was performed on data collected in the 1984 High School and Beyond (HSB) surveys of school administrators and teachers conducted by the National Opinion Research Center for the U.S. Department of Education. Despite complaints about the low level of formal qualifications of the nation's high school faculties, the HSB data indicate an impressive level of formal qualifications across ten different high school subjects. The conventional wisdom holds that schools in rural areas and in the South, and schools with largely minority or low-income student bodies, have the least-qualified teachers. According to the HSB data, however, the disadvantages for nonmetropolitan and Southern schools were slight. The ethnic status of the student body also had little relation to the level of formal qualifications of the teachers. These results provide little justification for massive new policy interventions to upgrade the formal qualifications of teachers or to redistribute teachers across schools.