Traditional teacher qualifications have little influence on classroom achievement

Teacher experience and education level are characteristics are commonly assumed to correlate with greater teacher effectiveness.

However, when researchers analyzed student achievement data along with teacher qualifications, they found that a five-year increase in teaching experience affected student achievement very little — less than 1 percentage point. Similarly, the level of education held by a teacher proved to have no effect on student achievement in the classroom. These findings have implications for the way in which teacher quality and effectiveness should be assessed and valued by a school district.

Student achievement is unaffected by teacher licensure scores.

Licensure tests restrict entry into the teaching profession. Moreover, considerable resources are expended on these exams. The State of California requires new elementary teachers to pass general aptitude, subject-matter, and reading instruction competency tests. If a candidate fails one or all of these examinations on the first attempt, he or she may opt to retake one or all of the examinations in order to obtain licensure.

When the researchers compared teacher licensure test results with teacher performance in terms of student test scores, they found no relationship between student achievement and teachers’ test scores. The researchers also analyzed whether failing the exam before later passing it was related to student achievement and found no statistically significant link. These findings suggest that the measured basic skills, subject-matter knowledge, and reading pedagogy scores of elementary teachers do not contribute to improved student achievement, implying that new methods of teacher assessment might be needed.

Policymakers Should Consider Other Measures to Predict Performance

The study offers several policy implications. First, while it is evident that some teachers are much more effective than others in improving student academic achievement, the study’s findings suggest that traditional measures of teacher quality do not predict classroom performance. Education experts might wish to rethink the current knowledge requirements of new teachers and develop alternative measures that will more accurately predict classroom performance.

Currently, most compensation systems reward teachers for their years of experience and education. Research shows, however, that these factors do not accurately predict a teacher’s effect on student achievement. The traditional compensation system might provide too little incentive for the more effective teachers to deliver their best performance, and it provides incentives for further education that does not appear to contribute to student performance.

Adapted from: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9526/index1.html

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