High Quality Teacher Preparation Makes A Difference in Student Achievement

1. Research related to Teacher Preparation and Individual Student Performance:

Druva, C.A. and Anderson, R.D. (1983). Science teachers’s characteristics by teacher behavior by student outcome: A meta-analysis of research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 20(5), 467-469.

This meta-analysis is based on 65 studies of K-12 US science teachers: 52 studies were dissertations, 11 were journal articles, and 2 were unpublished articles. Student achievement was positively related to the number of biology courses taken (for biology teachers), the number of science courses taken, and attendance at academic institutions. Student outcomes are positively associated with teacher preparation and academic work generally.

Goldhaber, D.D., and Brewer, D. J. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145.

This study concluded that the effects of teacher licensure on student achievement is greater than that of a content major in the field, suggesting that what licensed teachers learn in methods/education coursework/practice adds to their abilities in the classroom. “We find [that] students of teachers who are either not certified in their subject…or hold a private school certification do less well than students whose teachers hold a …certification in math” (p. 139).

Hawk, P., Coble, C.R. and Swanson, M. (1985). "Certification: Does it matter?" Journal of Teacher Education , 36 (3), 13-15.

Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13 (2), 125-142.

Using data for more than 2,800 students, David Monk found that not only content preparation was positively related to student achievement in math and science, but also courses in methods of teaching math and science. In mathematics, additional teaching methods courses had “more powerful effects” than additional preparation in the content area. Monk concludes “it would appear that a good grasp of one’s subject area is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for effective teaching.” (Monk, 1994, p. 142).

Wenglinksy (2002) How schools matter. The link between teacher classroom practices and student academic performance. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10 (12). Retrieved from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n12/ .

Wenglinsky (2002) looked at how math and science achievement levels of more than 7,000 eighth graders on the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress were related to measures of teaching quality and student social class background. He found that student achievement was influenced by both (1) teacher content background and (2) teacher education /professional development coursework, especially in how to work with diverse student populations and students with special needs. In addition, teaching practices, which had strong effects on achievement, were related to teacher training. Students performed better when teachers provided hands-on learning opportunities and helped student develop higher order thinking skills. These practices were related to the training they had received in developing critical thinking skills and related pedagogy.

  • How Teaching Matters, an ETS study released in October, 2000, (earlier version of Wenglinsky study) finds that teachers’ classroom practices greatly influence student achievement, and that ’more attention needs to be paid’ to improving classroom practices. Student achievement increases when students have teachers who are trained in developing higher order thinking skills, who are skilled at implementing hands-on experiences in the classroom, and who are trained to work with special populations. Although the study focused on long term in-service professional development, the findings support the need for content-specific pedagogy, the ’how to teach’ portion of teacher development to be instantiated in preservice programs. It dispels the idea that only subject matter knowledge is necessary in order to teach effectively.

  • Students of teachers who conduct hands-on learning activities outperform their peers by more than 70 percent of a grade level in math and 40 percent of a grade level in science. Students whose teachers have received training in working with special populations outperform their peers by more than a full grade level.

National Board Certified Teachers

Cavaluzzo, Linda. Senior Researcher at CNA Corporation Education Center , Alexandria , VA. Is National Board Certification an Effective Signal of Teacher Quality? Available online at www.cna.org Paper presented Nov. 12, 2004 at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education’s National Conference on Teacher Compensation and Evaluation in Chicago , IL . The National Science Foundation funded the study, along with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Students of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) did a measurably better job than other ninth- and 10th-graders on year-end math tests in Miami-Dade County ( Fla. ) Public Schools, according to research that accounted for other factors that could have resulted in high scores. The study of more than 100,000 student Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) records found that NBCTs are particularly effective with students who have special needs, and provides some evidence that Black and Hispanic students may also receive extra benefits.

2. Research related to Teacher Preparation and Student Performance at the School Level:

School-level studies have found significant negative relationships between the percentage of teachers on emergency permits and student scores on state exams:

Betts, J.R., Rueben, K.S. and Danenberg, A. (2000). Equal resources, equal outcomes? The distribution of school resources and student achievement in California . San Francisco, Public Policy Institute of California.

Fetler M. (1999). High school staff characteristics and mathematics test results. Education Policy Analysis Archives. 7 (9): http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v7n9.html :

“The experience and education of mathematics teachers predicts student achievement. Schools with more experienced and more highly educated mathematics teachers tended to have higher achieving students. Schools with higher percentages of teachers on emergency permits tended to have lower achieving students.”

Goe L. (2002). Legislating equity. The distribution of emergency permit teachers in California . Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 10 (42). Retrieved from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n42

“Generally, the more emergency permit teachers there are in a school, the lower the school’s achievement. This phenomenon is examined in the context of other contributors to student achievement, such as socio-economic status and school size. Researchers and policymakers can now clearly connect student achievement (at the school level) with a number of other variables, including the percentage of underqualified teachers. Seeing these connections…can be shocking.”

The following study found that students perform better when they have fully prepared and licensed teachers in the school:

Fuller, E. (1998). Do properly certified teachers matter? A comparison of elementary school performance on the TAAS in 1997 between schools with high and low percentages of properly certified regular education teachers. Austin : The Charles A. Dana Center . University of Texas at Austin.

A 1996–97 study conducted by the University of Texas’s Charles A. Dana Center showed:

  • Texas students perform better on state exams when their instructors are fully licensed in the subjects they teach.

  • 75 percent of 3 rd graders passed all parts of the 1997 state assessment when taught by fully licensed teachers in their field. 63 percent passed when fewer than 85 percent of the 3rd grade teachers were licensed. The passing rate for Hispanic 3 rd graders jumped from 58.7 percent to 67.5 percent when their teachers were fully licensed in their field.

  • One-fifth of Texas ’ K–12 students were taught by out-of-field instructors during 1996–97.

  • The needier the school, the more likely it is to have out-of-field or unlicensed teachers. In Texas , 11 percent of teachers were not licensed in those elementary schools with poverty rates above 75 percent.

  • Urban and rural schools hired more unlicensed teachers. Only 49.2 percent of urban middle school mathematics classes in Texas were led by licensed math teachers in 1996–97; only 68 percent of urban high school Algebra I courses were taught by licensed teachers, compared with 78.6 percent statewide.

Other data and studies support the Dana Center finding.

Longitudinal Study of Students with Effective vs. Ineffective Teachers

Sanders, W.L. and Rivers, J.C. (1996) Cumulative and residual effects of teachers on future student academic achievement. Knoxville : University of Tennessee Value-Added Research and Assessment Center.

The report shows that two equally performing second graders can be separated by as many as 50 percentile points by the time they reach fifth grade, solely as a result of being taught by teachers whose effectiveness varies greatly.

3. Research Related to Teacher Preparation and Student Performance at the District Level:

Darling-Hammond, L., Holtzman, D., Gatlin, S., and Vasquez-Heilig, J. (2005). Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America , and Teacher Effectiveness. http://schoolredesign.net/

This study shows that certified teachers consistently produce significantly stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers. The study found that Teach for America recruits negatively affect student achievement relative to certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers. TFA recruits who become certified do about as well as other certified teachers in supporting student achievement gains. However, the vast majority of TFA recruits in the study had left teaching by their third year, just as they became more effective.

Teachers with better scores on licensure exams (including pedagogy as well as other skills) are more effective:

Ferguson , R. F. (1991). Paying for public education: New evidence on how and why money matters. Harvard Journal of Legislation. 28 (2), 465-498.

Strauss, R. P.& Sawyer, E.A. (1986). Some new evidence on teacher and student competencies. Economics of Education Review, 5 (1) 41-48.

4. Research Related to Teacher Preparation and Student Performance at the State Level:

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000a). Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives. 8(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n1/

Does teacher certification matter? Evaluating the Evidence. Darling-Hammond, L., Berry , B., and Thoresen, A. (September, 2000). 

Controlling for poverty and language background of students, the largest predictor of student achievement at the state level is the percent of well-qualified teachers (holding full licensure and a major in the field taught).

Research on National Board Certified Teachers at the State Level

Goldhaber, Dan, and Anthony, Emily. Can Teacher Quality Be Effectively Assessed. (2004). University of Washington. www.crpe.org .

The researchers measured the effectiveness of National Board Certified Teachers by studying the annual test scores of North Carolina students in grades three, four and five from three academic years: 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99.  Data for the project came from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, which has an accountability system that allows researchers to link student and teacher records over time.  Goldhaber and Anthony were able to successfully link more than 600,000 student records in reading and math to individual teachers, thus yielding pre-test and post-test scores.  The study found:

  • Teachers who achieve National Board Certification do a measurably better job in the classroom.

  • Students of NBCTs improved an average of seven percent more on their year-end math and reading tests than students whose teachers attempted but failed to gain certification.

  • This performance differential was most pronounced for younger and lower-income students whose gains were as high as 15 percent.

Vandevoort, Leslie, Amrein-Beardsle, Audrey, and Berliner, David. National Board Certified Teachers and Their Students’ Achievement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, September 7, 2004 .

T hird, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders taught by National Board Certified Teachers in 14 Arizona school districts outperformed their schoolmates on the nationwide Stanford Achievement Test 9th Edition (SAT-9) in almost 75 percent of reading, math and language arts measures. The SAT-9 is one of the nation’s most widely used standardized educational tests. What’s more, researchers found that those gains went beyond higher test scores, adding up to learning improvements equivalent to more than a month’s worth of additional time in the classroom.

5. Bibliographies on Teacher Preparation, Teacher Certification, and Teacher Quality

These articles contain excellent bibliographies. The articles cite studies on the effectiveness of teacher preparation, teacher certification, and alternate certification, among other related teacher quality topics.

"Defining 'Highly Qualified Teachers:' What does 'Scientifically-Based Research' Actually Tell Us? Darling-Hammond, L., Youngs, P., Educational Researcher, Vol. 31, No. 9 (December 2002), pp. 13-25.

"Educating the New Educator: Teacher Education and the Future of Democracy," Darling-Hammond, L. The New Educator, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004), pp. 1-17.

"Wanted: A National Teacher Supply Policy for Education: The right way to meet the 'highly qualified teacher' challenge" Darling-Hammond, L. with Gary Sykes. E ducational Policy Analysis Archives , Vol. 11, No. 33 (September 2003).

"Variation in teacher preparation: How well do different pathways prepare teachers to teach?" Darling-Hammond, L. , Chung, R. and Frelow, F. Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 4 (September/October 2002), pp. 286-302.


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