High Need Districts

This information is specifically directed at Robert Noyce Teaching Fellows.

High Need Districts: A Definition

As Teaching Fellows in the Robert Noyce Scholars program, you have committed to teaching science or mathematics for a minimum of four years in high need school districts after completing your teacher training program here at Tufts.

Definitions differ by state, so for the purposes of this program, the National Science Foundation defines a high need district as one that meets at least one of the following criteria:

(A) a high percentage of individuals from families with incomes below the poverty line;

  • Take a look at the 2010-2011 Selected Populations Report on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. This report includes the enrollment of selected populations – first language not English, limited English proficient, special education, low-income, free lunch and reduced lunch – for all students in public schools and charter schools in Massachusetts. (Look carefully at the low income column – the entire table is sortable by this and other indicators – for the purposes of this NSF criterion.)

(B) a high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which the teachers were trained to teach;


(C) a high teacher turnover rate*.

The following area districts, among many others in the state, qualify: Barnstable, Boston, Cambridge, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Chelsea, Everett, Greenfield, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, New Bedford, Peabody, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Springfield, Quincy and Worcester.

* The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently posted a new website that reports lots of k-12 district data, including teacher turnover.  This statistic is useful for high need district classification under Noyce requirements. On this webpage, click on “DART for Districts” and you will find teacher turnover data under the link for  “Leadership and Governance: Human Resources and Professional Development”.

High Need Districts: More Clarification

Math Professor and Noyce project P.I. Todd Quinto received the following information from the NSF Program Officer in 2012:

NSF does not have a list of high need school districts.  Generally, the school districts have this information, since it is related to Title I eligibility and free and reduced price lunch eligibility.

Poverty rates (percentage of families below the official poverty line) are available on the US Census website.  We do not specify what “high” is as it may vary from state to state.  AS A GENERAL RULE, YOU CAN CONSIDER ANY PERCENTAGE THAT IS GREATER THAN THE STATE AVERAGE OR NATIONAL AVERAGE TO BE HIGH. If all the schools in a district have poverty rates that are less than the state or national average, it would not be considered a high need school district.

If you are considering data on out-of-field teachers, you would want to look at data for out-of-field teachers in STEM disciplines, not all teachers, and compare to state data.  Similarly for teacher turnover. For example, if the national or state average turnover rate for teachers is 10% and the district turnover is greater than 10%, that would be high.

There is also a tool at the Department of Ed website for Teacher Loan Cancellation that allows you to look up schools designated by the U.S. Department of Education as having a “high” concentration of students from low-income families by state.  Again, the word “high” is not defined.

The Noyce Scholar can teach in any school in a high need district and IF YOU FIND A SCHOOL ON THIS LIST, THEN THE WHOLE DISTRICT IS ELIGIBLE AS FAR THE NOYCE TEACHING REQUIREMENT GOES.  You can tell your Fellows about this tool if they want to check a particular school or district.