Systematic Sorting

Teacher Characteristics and Class Assignments
Demetra Kalogrides
Stanford University and Brown University
Susanna Loeb
Stanford Graduate School of Education
Tara Béteille
The World Bank


Although prior research has documented differences in the distribution of teacher characteristics across schools serving different student populations, few studies have examined the extent to which teacher sorting occurs within schools. This study uses data from one large urban school district and compares the class assignments of teachers who teach in the same grade and in the same school in a given year. The article finds that less experienced, minority, and female teachers are assigned classes with lower achieving students than their more experienced, white, and male colleagues. Teachers who have held leadership positions and those who attended more competitive undergraduate institutions are also assigned higher achieving students. These patterns are found at both the elementary and middle/high school levels. The article explores explanations for these patterns and discuss their implications for achievement gaps, teacher turnover, and the estimation of teacher value-added.

This article was originally published in Sociology of Education by the American Sociological Association and SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationKalogrides, D., Loeb, S., & Béteille, T. (2013, April). Systematic sorting: Teacher characteristics and class assignments [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.