An Examination of Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement in Mathematics
Type of DegreeDissertation
Leadership and Technology
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Many researchers have suggested that teacher quality and student achievement, especially in mathematics, are two significant challenges for schools. For example, educational researchers (Ballou & Podgursky, 2000b; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000; Monk, 1994; Wenglinsky, 2000a; Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001) have conducted various studies to determine teacher qualifications that impact student achievement. In order to enhance mathematics achievement, it is important for educators in Alabama and across the United States to understand the relationship between teacher qualifications and student achievement in mathematics. The purpose of this study was to assess whether or not there is a statistically significant difference in teacher qualifications that might help to predict the academic performance of middle school students on the mathematics portion of the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT). Using a theoretical framework which suggests that teacher qualifications impact or have a relationship to student achievement in mathematics, this study examined the relationship between the factors of teacher preparation, certification, and teaching experience with the mathematics achievement of their students. Measures of teacher qualifications included four independent variables: (a) the number of mathematics semester hours completed, (b) type of teacher certification, (c) the teacher’s total number of years teaching mathematics, and (d) the teacher’s total number of years teaching middle school mathematics. Twenty full-time mathematics teachers from 7 of the 8 traditional (non-magnet) middle/junior high schools located in the Montgomery Public School (MPS) District, Montgomery, Alabama participated in this causal-comparative study. All participants completed a Teacher Background Survey. The survey results were later matched with student data from the 2007 administration of the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT). The responses to the teacher surveys were analyzed using a t-test. Findings from this study indicated that a significant relationship does exist between teacher qualifications and student achievement. Specifically, the findings revealed that students with mathematics teachers who had 5 or more years experience performed better on the math portion of the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT). This study also found that if the teacher had a traditional secondary mathematics certification then his or her students tended to score higher on the ARMT compared to teachers with alternative certification.