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American Educational Research Association

Poor children in America are more likely to be taught by unqualified staff or teachers working outside their specialist subject area - and the situation has worsened in recent years, writes Karen Thornton. Their teachers are also much less likely to have advanced qualifications or to have trained at prestigious universities, researchers from Washington DC have confirmed.

In 1999-00, 13.6 per cent of teachers in high poverty schools were unqualified, compared to 8.9 per cent in low poverty schools. Ten years ago, one in 12 children was being taught by unqualified staff. By the end of the decade, the proportion was one in eight.

The study also showed that the number of secondary teachers taking lessons outside their specialist area nearly doubled during the 1990s. However, more teachers are now taking part in professional development programmes and participation rates in these poor schools are higher than average.

"Project on the next generation of teachers", the Harvard Graduate School of Education, contact margaret_haas@harvard.edu"Teacher quality: current status and outlook, the bad, the good, and the uncertain", Jane Hannaway and Albert Yung-Hsu Liu, of the Urban Institute, Washington DC, and Yasser Nakib, of George Washington University, contact Jhannawa@ui.urban.org

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