Importance of teacher quality

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The relationship between good teaching and student achievement elevates the importance of teacher quality in the eyes of parents, educators, and policy makers.

We know from research that good teaching does not happen by accident. While some teachers may have the special gift to help students learn, good teaching encompasses critical elements, such as knowledge of the learning process, child development, teacher experiences, academic ability, and content knowledge (Heine, 2006).

In recent years, there have been great discussions among educational policy-makers, think tanks, and politicians regarding school reform and student achievement. Among politicians, large allocation of fiscal resources divided to improve teacher quality and communities, which directly affect student achievement. Parents, educators, and stakeholders are gainfully involved in finding new means to improving the student achievement.

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), formally Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) mandated federal, state, and local education agencies to improve student achievement in the math, literacy, and science. Moreover, pressing the agencies to make drastic improvements by 2014. With the onset of NCLB, there have been new ideas and initiatives developed and implemented to improve the educational outcomes of our public school students. Millions of tax dollars outlined to for statewide assessments, improvements in state curriculum and programs and changes to teacher preparation programs.

This study will specifically examine mathematics achievement of fifth grade and teaching quality of certified and non-certified teachers. The quantitative study will address this issue by determining if there is a correlation between teacher certification and student progress on state and local assessments. The researcher will obtain teacher certification data from the Maryland Department of Education (MSDE).

Dissecting the qualifications of teacher certification, this dissertation is a quantitative study report of teacher certification, mathematics, and elementary school student achievement. The study will comprise observations and reflections of the writer and 23 elementary schools, as the nation reviews teacher certification and teacher quality. The first chapter of this dissertation is a presentation of the background of the study, specific questions of the study, and a discussion of the professional significance of the study. The conclusion to the first chapter includes a discussion of the definitions of a few key terms.

Social changes intricate to, prerequisites for, and a consequence of economic development; however, education is an ingredient to helping individuals and institutions participate in and affect social change. Education is a source of self-development or skills to cope with a wide variety of external problems, including productivity of labor. When citizen participate effectively in its educational systems, they develop higher order problem solving and creativity that then improves their processes for improvement.

When there is a source to improve education beyond the basic level of education, a demand for secondary and higher education stimulates political capital and thus improves human capital. With an emphasis on basic education, the lowest groups gain education and social access to improving their lives and communities.

Walden University provides educational opportunities for its students to become engineers of social cohesion through education to improve communities and improving world. Walden's total purpose is to provide societies the principles of citizenship. Whether formal or informal the contract derived from this relationship of mutual trust and respect between teachers and students strengthens the community and decrease the distance or the level uncertainty that exists within communities throughout the world. At best, the collective efforts of students within Walden University are involved in making significant changes to change the social conditions of individuals and within communities nationally and internationally.

The first in improving education is to recognize that problems of our schools are rooted in the way our society is organized. It is a society where no one feels an obligation to pay taxes for the broader social good and where welfare reform means denying benefits to children if their parents cannot find work. This must change.

One poignant and crucial question was not whether it would change but the direction of change. Education is essential so that ordinary citizens could participate in the process, defending and enhancing their freedom

Statement of the Problem

Research suggests that recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is an important way to close the achievement gap (Haycock, 1998). In practical thought, however, there is an inequitable distribution of highly qualified educators. The schools with the largest achievement gap tend to attract large numbers of highly qualified teachers by No Child Left Behind standards. Schools with a high number of predominantly low-income and minority students will have teachers that are inexperienced, non-certified with no advanced degrees and who lack content knowledge or a college major in the subject they teach.

Because of poverty and other neighborhood conditions, these students enter school behind other students. As they progress through the grades, the deficits increase, leaving them further and further behind students of the same age and grade.

If we went further and assigned our best teachers to the students who needed them most, majority of research suggests that the achievement gap would close signficantly. Haycock (1998) further reports that both research and extensive experience in classrooms all over the country that poor and minority youngsters will achieve at the same high levels as other students if they are taught at those levels. Research documents the clear relationship between low standards, low-level curriculum, undereducated teachers, and poor results and if states and school districts work hard on these three issues, they can close the achievement gap.

For Title 1 schools to meet the necessary requirement of teacher certification based on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates, teachers must be highly qualified in a specific content area. When a teacher does not have certification in a specific content area, a conditional or provisional contract is given and the teacher must take courses to become "highly qualified".

Teacher quality is the backbone to student achievement and to a large degree school reform. Student progress is marked by the yearly outcomes on stated mandated assessments. While acknowledging that elementary school student achievement is very important to all federal and state education agencies and education certification programs, all scramble to find better methods to assess teacher aptitude and meet the challenge in ways that maintains highly qualified candidates in the field of education. Student achievement is dependent on teacher quality and there will be a statistically significant difference in benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by certified teachers compared to benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by non-certified teachers. The research gap that exists with teacher certification is a need for improvements in teacher alternative preparation programs. This research prospectus follows closely Walden's social change vision and service to the community and service through improvements in education.

Berry, Hoke, and Hirsch (2004) Existing research has demonstrated how negative school labels discourage qualified and experienced teachers from working in underperforming schools. These underperforming schools are more likely to have grim working conditions, including grossly inadequate time to work with and learn from expert colleagues.

Purpose of the Study

This proposed study is to examine the difference in benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by certified teachers compared to benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by non-certified teachers. Do highly qualified teachers improve student progress?

This study is intended to examine 5th grade students' performance on Maryland State and local LEA mandated benchmark assessments. In Maryland, a highly qualified teacher is defined as a person who holds at the minimum a bacheor's degree and has passed the Praxis I and II in a content area.

The intended results of the study may provide school administrators an alternative view of teacher certification and collaborate with other LEA to increase teacher efficacy for increase student achievement.

Background of the Problem

The importance of powerful teaching is increasingly important in contemporary society. Standards for learning are now higher than they have ever been before, as citizens and workers need greater knowledge and skill to survive and succeed. Education is increasingly important to the success of both individuals and nations, and growing evidence demonstrates that a teacher's ability to sequentially provide information in such a manner that provides rigorous instruction is especially a crucial contributor to students' learning. Darling-Hammond, Holtzman, Gatlin, and Heilig (2005) conducted a six-year study on elementary school students and the results demonstrated that all students consistently performed better when taught by certified teachers rather than by instructors lacking formal preparation. At the state's expense, the outcome indicated schools would thrive with better when there are professional development, continuing education, teacher mentor programs and better salaries. Many scenarios account for NCLB's efforts to find resolutions for preparing teachers to close the achievement gap in our public schools. Thus far, their efforts have increased an alternative option that provides a framework; however, with no systemic investment to provide continuous improvement and preparation, our schools will continue to suffer

Theoretical Framework

A conceptual framework of this study illustrates a potential opportunity for teacher preparation programs to maximize best practices to increase elementary school students' achievement. This study will highlight potential relationships of teacher practices, professional development, and support for teachers at the beginning of their careers and the possible effects of these factors on instruction and elementary school student achievement. This study will show elementary school student achievement and teacher outcomes by comparing teachers with and without certification. The key results for elementary school teachers are the benchmark assessments and the yearly-standardized state assessments. The key outcome for elementary school students will be the level of achievements as identified by the state mandated levels of student achievement outline by state assessments. There is a significant amount of evidence to support the opinion that the quality of teaching in a classroom is the single, most influential determinant of increased student achievement. Wright, Horn, & Sanders (1997) agree that we must do to improve education by improving the effectiveness of teachers than by any other single factor. Ferguson (1991) states that teacher experiences relate to gains in students' math and reading scores. Investigations of Druva and Andersen (1983) found that there are significant statistical differences in teacher experiences. Chaney (1995) demonstrated a correlation of middle school students in science and mathematics and teacher experience. However, there is not much research differentiating certified or non-certified teachers and their impact on math achievement for elementary school students. Kane, Rockoff, & Staiger (2008) assert that teacher effectiveness improves within the first few years of experience.

Research Hypothesis and Research Questions

There will be a statistically significant difference in benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by certified teachers compared to benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by non-certified teachers.

The goals of this study are to examine the impact of teacher certification or licensure on the student achievement in mathematics. Based on the purpose of this study, we will attempt to address the following research questions:

Research Question 1: Is there a significant difference in 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by certified teachers compared to benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by non-certified teachers?

Null: There is no significant difference of student achievement in 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by certified teachers compared to benchmark and state mandated achievement scores of 5th grade mathematics who are instructed by non-certified teachers.

Significance of the Study

The potential outcome of this research proposal is to improve teacher quality for students at all grade levels and through the development of certain recommendations, educators can utilize the strategies to help learners achieve better academic standards. In addition, teachers become stronger and confident and students' achievement is increased.

The researcher decided to study this topic to determine if findings from the literature can introduce new measures to measure teacher quality and retain teachers who have demonstrated increases in student achievement.

Definition of Terms

Highly Qualified: teachers that have earned at least a bachelor's degree, demonstrated content knowledge in each core content area he/she teaches, do not have any waivers of the requirements for full state certification.

Certification: The process, by which a professional organization or an independent external agency recognizes the competence of individual practitioners (

Certified: A teacher is considered certified when they have acquired a bachelors degree from a higher education institution, passed a national certification test such as the Praxis, and is lawfully allowed teach in schools in a particular content areas and across the curriculum.

Non-certified: A teacher is considered non certified when they have not passed the required assessments or taken the required coursework to become highly qualified.


Although performance on teacher licensing examinations should correlate with student achievement, no study has determined whether teachers' higher scores on teacher licensing examinations such as the Praxis series or previous examinations are associated

Nearly two decades of experience and research show the potential need for qualified teachers. Numerous studies demonstrate that teachers who came through alternative routes had higher licensure exam scores and were more likely to remain in teaching beyond the second year than were their peers from conventional teacher training education programs. National Bureau for Economic Research (2005) analyzed more than 6,000 teachers completing one of several alternate route programs. There are other reports that validate alternately teachers certified can produce student outcomes equal to or greater than those of teachers certified through traditional programs. Mathematical Policy Research (2004) concluded that teachers who participate in the alternate route Teach for America programs produce higher levels of student learning in mathematics and literacy than traditionally certified new and veteran teachers. These studies provide supporting evidence that teachers who enter the profession through rigorous alternative certification programs possess the qualities needed to produce higher student achievement.