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With teacher quality repeatedly cited as the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement, there has been increased interest in examining the efficacy of teacher training programs. This paper presents research examining the variation between and impact that individual teacher training institutions in Washington state have on the effectiveness of teachers they train. Using administrative data linking teachers' initial endorsements to student achievement on state reading and math tests, we find the majority of teacher training programs produce teachers who are no more or less effective than teachers who trained out-of-state. However, we do find a number of cases where there are statistically significant differences between estimates of training program effects for teachers who were credentialed at various in-state programs. These findings are robust to a variety of different model specifications.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Stephanie Liddle (2012). The Gateway to the Profession: Assessing Teacher Preparation Programs Based on Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 65
Traditionally, states have required individuals complete a program of study in a university-based teacher preparation program in order to be licensed to teach. In recent years, however, various "alternative certification" programs have been developed and the number of teachers obtaining teaching certificates through routes other than completing a traditional teacher preparation program has skyrocketed. In this paper I use a rich longitudinal data base from Florida to compare the characteristics of alternatively certified teachers with their traditionally prepared colleagues. I then analyze the relative effectiveness of teachers who enter the profession through different pathways by estimating "value-added" models of student achievement. In general, alternatively certified teachers have stronger pre-service qualifications than do traditionally prepared teachers, with the least restrictive alternative attracting the most qualified perspective teachers. These differences are less pronounced when controlling for the grade level of teachers, however. On average, alternatively certified science teachers have also had much more coursework in science while in college than traditionally prepared science teachers. The same is not true for math teachers, where the hours of college coursework are approximately equal across pathways. Of the three alternative certification pathways studied, teachers who enter through the path requiring no coursework have substantially greater effects on student achievement than do either traditionally prepared teachers or alternative programs that require some formal coursework in education. These results suggest that the additional education coursework required in traditional teacher preparation programs either does little to boost the human capital of teachers or that whatever gains accrue from traditional teacher education training are offset by greater innate ability of individuals who enter teaching through routes requiring little formal training in education.
Teach for America (TFA) selects and places graduates from the most competitive colleges as teachers in the lowest-performing schools in the country. This paper is the first study that examines TFA effects in high school. We use rich longitudinal data from North Carolina and estimate TFA effects through cross-subject student and school fixed-effects models. We find that TFA teachers tend to have a positive effect on high school student test scores relative to non-TFA teachers, including those who are certified in-field. Such effects exceed the impact of additional years of experience and are particularly strong in math and science.
Citation: Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, Colin Taylor (2009). Making a Difference?: The Effects of Teach for America in High School. CALDER Working Paper No. 17
There are fierce debates over the best way to prepare teachers. Some argue that easing entry into teaching is necessary to attract strong candidates, while others argue that investing in high quality teacher preparation is the most promising approach. Most agree, however, that we lack a strong research basis for understanding how to prepare teachers. This paper is one of the first to estimate the effects of features of teachers' preparation on teachers' value-added to student test score performance in Math and English Language Arts. Our results indicate variation across preparation programs in the average effectiveness of the teachers they are supplying to New York City schools. In particular, preparation directly linked to practice appears to benefit teachers in their first year.
One of the first papers to ever estimate teacher effects at the secondary school level, this groundbreaking work presents evidence that teacher credentials affect secondary school student success in systematic ways and to a significant, policy-relevant extent. We use data on statewide end-of-course tests in North Carolina to examine the relationship between teacher credentials and student achievement at the high school level. We find compelling evidence that teacher credentials affect student achievement in systematic ways and that the magnitudes are large enough to be policy relevant. As a result, the uneven distribution of teacher credentials by race and socio-economic status of high school students- a pattern we also document- contributes to achievement gaps in high school.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Jacob Vigdor (2007). Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects. CALDER Working Paper No. 11
This paper explores how the distribution of teacher qualifications and student achievement in New York City have changed from 2000 through 2005 using data on teachers and students. We find: the gap between the qualifications of New York City teachers in high-poverty schools and low-poverty schools has narrowed substantially over this period, and that this gap-narrowing associated with new hires has been driven almost entirely by the substitution of teachers entering through alternative certification routes, for uncertified teachers in high-poverty schools, these changes resulted from a direct policy intervention eliminating unlicensed teachers, and perhaps most intriguing, much larger gains could result if teachers with strong teacher qualifications could be recruited.
Citation: Donald Boyd, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, Jonah Rockoff, James Wyckoff (2007). The Narrowing Gap in New York City Teacher Qualifications and Its Implications for Student Achievement in High Poverty Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 10
Using longitudinal data from the state of Florida, this study examines the effects of various types of education and training on the ability of teachers to promote student achievement. It suggests that teacher training generally has little influence on productivity. One exception is that content-focused teacher professional development is positively associated with productivity in middle and high school math. In addition, more experienced teachers appear more effective in teaching elementary and middle school reading. There is no evidence that either pre-service (undergraduate) training or the scholastic aptitude of teachers influences their ability to increase student achievement.
Citation: Douglas Harris, Tim Sass (2007). Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 3