Policy Levers in Disadvantaged Schools

Significant progress toward equity will take a comprehensive approach, with many stakeholders working in concert. Consider the following strategies and resources across the elements of a human capital management framework.

What Can I Do to Support Equitable Access to Great Teachers and Leaders?

Strategies to Consider

  • Establish an Equity Workgroup

    Establish an equity workgroup to develop a coordinated, comprehensive approach to improving access to great teachers and leaders in a way that breaks down departmental silos:

    • Ground conversation in actual equity data and resources.
    • Regional center staff can connect with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and other regional center colleagues to determine successful strategies for consideration.
    • Highlight successful equity strategies from within a state and across states. 
  • Partner With Federal Technical Assistance Centers

    Partner with your regional equity assistance center, your regional educational laboratory, or the GTL Center to address these strategies.


  • Do Low-Income Students Have Equal Access to the Highest Performing Teachers?

    This brief examines 10 districts across seven states and describes student access to the highest performing teachers. The researchers found that low-income students had unequal access to each district’s highest performing teachers at the middle school level. These results were not consistent at the elementary level. The researchers also found that there is evidence of variation in teacher access within the 10 districts studied, showing an underrepresentation of high-performing teachers in individual high-poverty elementary and middle schools and in others only at the middle school level. 

  • Ensuring an Effective Teacher for Every Student: Obstacles and Opportunities

    This PowerPoint presentation by National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality Director Sabrina Laine, Ph.D., for the Georgia Equity Plan Meeting contains research- and expert-based recommendations for achieving equity. Feel free to reproduce the slides for your work with other states.

  • Ensuring the Equitable Distribution of Teachers: Strategies for School, District, and State Leaders

    This brief discusses the need for highly qualified and effective teachers to be distributed equitably in schools and districts across all states. It emphasizes the roles of education leaders at the school, district, and state levels in securing such teachers so that all students have equal opportunities to learn.

  • Fighting for Quality and Equality, Too: How State Policymakers Can Ensure the Drive to Improve Teacher Quality Doesn’t Just Trickle Down to Poor and Minority Children

    The Education Trust developed this brief to describe the problem of the inequitable access to excellent teachers and provide policy recommendations for addressing it, including the following:

    • Produce better information on teacher effectiveness and place it in the hands of those who need it.
    • Require that teacher evaluations focus on effectiveness and require districts to reform hiring and placement practices.
    • Provide incentives for teachers to work in schools and ensure equitable access to effective teachers. 
  • Georgia Project EQ

    Through the Georgia Project EQ Web portal, Georgia districts receive guidance and support on developing district equity plans. These district equity plans use district-level data to target resources in addressing specific, local needs related to teacher equity issues. 

  • Systems and Strategies for Addressing the Inequitable Distribution of Teachers

    This national webcast, which was facilitated by Candace Crawford, a senior policy associate at The Education Trust, brought together experts and practitioners to discuss existing research and strategies that promote equitable access to excellent teachers. The presenters included Judy Wurtzel, advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Cortney Rowland, a senior policy associate at the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality (TQ Center); and Charles Clotfelter, Ph.D., a professor of public policy, economics, and law at Duke University. The presentations included an overview of the research, information about the requirements and potential funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that can be used to address equity issues, and a discussion of useful resources from the TQ Center. PowerPoint presentations, prewebcast presentations, and a live recording of the webcast are available. 

  • The Distribution of Highly Qualified, Experienced Teachers: Challenges and Opportunities

    Codeveloped by National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality staff and an outside researcher (Jennifer Imazeki, Ph.D., San Diego State University), this brief summarizes existing literature on issues of equity. It goes beyond describing the problem and offers solutions (including cost-effectiveness) that states might consider adopting.

  • Thinking Systemically: Steps for States to Improve Equity in the Distribution of Teachers

    A first draft of this workbook was codeveloped by National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality (TQ Center) staff and an outside researcher (Marguerite Roza, Ph.D., University of Washington). TQ Center staff then substantially updated the workbook for its wider dissemination to participants at a national workshop. Regional center staff may find this workbook useful in supporting in-depth conversations with state education agency personnel.