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Rural Schools Found More Likely to Have Beginning Teachers

Rural school districts are more likely to have beginning teachers than districts in small- to mid-sized cities or suburbs, according to a new study.

That's significant because research has shown that beginning teachers usually are less effective than their more-experienced colleagues. This report, "Beginning Teachers Are More Common in Rural, High-Poverty, and Racially Diverse Schools," defined beginning teachers as those in their first or second year in the classroom.

Although rural districts had a higher percentage of new teachers at 9.7 percent, it still wasn't as high as the percentage for large cities (11 percent) or remote towns (9.8 percent). The study found poor communities and those with a higher percentage of minority students also tended to have more beginning teachers.

"It is those students who consistently lag behind and have fewer opportunities than their peers who are also the most likely to receive instruction from beginning teachers," wrote the study's authors, Douglas G. Agnon and Marybeth J. Mattingly. "Thus, although differences in the concentration of beginning teachers between these groups of students is not of great magnitude, it does support the argument that there are cumulative differences in the quality of education for rural, urban, and minority students."

The report was published by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

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