Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement
Issue/Topic: Student Achievement; Teaching Quality; Teaching Quality--Professional Development
Author(s): Harris, Douglas; Sass, Tim
Organization(s): The Florida State University; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Publication: Journal of Public Economics
Published On: 11/25/2010
While recent research has documented the central role of teacher quality in promoting student achievement, there is no consensus on what factors enhance, or even signal, teacher quality. This has fueled debate over how best to prepare new teachers and how to improve the quality of the existing teacher labor force.
To analyze the effects of both pre-service and in-service training on teacher productivity while addressing the twin selection problems associated with teacher acquisition of training and assignment of students to teachers.
- Experience enhances the productivity of both elementary and middle school teachers, but not high school teachers.
- Overall, in-service professional development (PD) is associated with either no change or a reduction in teacher productivity, echoing past research. While high school math teachers initially experience negative effects from PD acquisition, the effect because positive and significant in years two through four, before becoming non-significant by year five.
- Teaching experience in elementary school appears to matter more in reading than in math.
- Obtaining an advanced degree during one's teaching career is positively related to teacher productivity only in the case of middle school math.
- College coursework and college entrance exam scores are not associated with teacher productivity or student performance.
- Professional development (PD) may not be immediately effective in improving student performance, because of the timing of PD and because lesson plans for later in the year may already be established.
- It may be more difficult to differentiate teacher effects from classroom/peer effects for elementary school teachers, because they teach fewer students, on average. In Florida, measuring the effect of teaching quality on student performance can be most precisely measured in middle school than any other environment, because of three years of state assessment data compared to two years in elementary and high schools.
- Like professional development, the effect of completing an advanced degree is variable based on grades and subject taught. Policymakers should consider why middle school teachers benefit the most from professional development and continuing education.
- If advanced degrees are uncorrelated with the productivity of some teachers, current salary schedules based on educational attainment may not be an efficient way to compensate teachers in primary schools.
- Further, if education majors are not significantly more productive as teachers than non-education majors, then state policymakers should consider a dual strategy of improving traditional preparation programs and continuing experimentation in alternative certification pathways.
Study authors use Florida's statewide administrative database to tie student performance to the identity of their classroom teacher and in turn link teachers to their in-service training, college coursework, and college entrance exam scores. The researchers use a two-step model. The first step uses detailed information on in-service training to quantify teacher effects on student performance. The second step adds pre-service experiences to measure all teacher effects on student achievement.
Florida school administrative records for both math and reading in each of grades three through 10.
Year data is from:
1999-2000 to 2004-2005 academic years
Data Collection and Analysis:
Use of Florida statewide administrative database that matches teacher characteristics with student achievement data.
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