The Relationship Between Teacher-Student Assignment and High School Student Equity in One North Carolina School District Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Hawkins, Ronald
    • Affiliation: School of Education, Educational Leadership Graduate Program
  • When teacher assignments are optimized for some students but not others, then the high school scheduling process becomes an exercise of inequity. Scholarly research reviewed for this study consistently showed a lack of access to the highest quality teachers possible for students of color and also correlated the achievement of students with their assignment to teachers. In some cases, research reported a causal link specifically between teacher assignments and the racial achievement gap. The purpose of this study was to illuminate a potential contributor to the achievement gap, one heretofore under-emphasized in existing research: the inequitable assignment of the highest quality teachers to white high school students at the expense of African American and Hispanic students. Employing a mixed methods approach, the researcher chose the high schools of one North Carolina school district to use as a case study in illuminating the values and priorities at play when assigning teachers possessing varying degrees of quality to students from different racial backgrounds. Key agents from each of the district’s three high schools participated in qualitative interviews, answering questions germane to teacher assignment practices. Upon analyzing interview results, each school’s master schedule was audited to quantitatively affirm or contradict qualitative findings. The purpose of the audit was to uncover evidence of equity or inequity with regard to access to teacher quality for students from historically marginalized backgrounds. A cross-case analysis is provided for each school as well as for the school district to relate congruence between qualitative and quantitative findings, as well as incongruence via the presentation of contradictory data. Findings include: (1) Within a given high school, access for students from marginalized populations to the highest quality teachers is generally inequitable compared to students of privilege. (2) Racial equity and the achievement gap are not considerations driving teacher assignments. However, student and teacher requests are key factors that drive master schedules. (3) Teachers ply capital with varying degrees of success to influence assignments. (4) Parents of white students attempt to harness capital to influence assignments to a significantly higher degree than do parents of African American and Hispanic students.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Brown, Kathleen
  • Schainker, Stanley
  • Batten, Kelly
  • Thompson Dorsey, Dana
  • English, Fenwick
  • Doctor of Education
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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