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Understanding Teacher Effectiveness and Student Achievement

Understanding Teacher Effectiveness and Student Achievement

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students examine research on the impact of teacher quality on student achievement.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll cover the lesson titled Understanding Teacher Effectiveness and Student Achievement. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards one main learning objective. And we'll use the following question to guide our learning in this video lesson-- what is the research on the impact of teacher quality on student achievement?

Let's start by talking about the criteria for teacher quality. Across the globe, research studies verify that quality teachers-- teachers who possess a high number of these characteristics and conditions we'll look at here-- greatly influence student achievement. This influence, or effect size, is greater than the greatest predictive factors-- race and parent education or home life-- in the Coleman Report. Quality of teachers is measured based on the following criteria-- certification, content knowledge, pedagogical skills and training, type of teacher preparation program and level of rigor, student assessment scores, and classroom experience.

Let's talk about teacher quality and socioeconomics. Teachers no doubt have a demanding job. The expectations for measuring our quality and level of effectiveness are many. This leads to a range of quality levels in teachers throughout districts. The least qualified teachers here in the US are generally teaching in classrooms that have the most needs. These schools are generally in urban settings and serve a high number of low socioeconomic students.

There are many reasons for these lower levels of teacher quality. First, the districts that are low socioeconomic students and in urban settings pay teachers a lower salary. While the benefits of serving this population are great for teachers that want to make a difference, the rates are not competitive. This, along with limited resources and higher needs of students that need those resources, create teacher burnout way more quickly. The schools are generally underfunded, which leads to tough working conditions and less or poor training opportunities.

As a result, credentials and requirements for teachers have been lowered and students' access to high quality teachers has been diminished. Up to half of the teachers in some of these urban schools are not certified in their content area. Many of these same teachers have under five years teaching experience and receive their teaching certification through alternative routes. These alternative routes are often less in-depth and rigorous than traditional routes for obtaining teacher certification and preparation. Additionally, the requirements for student teaching are often less as well.

According to Linda Darling Hammond in The Flat World and Education-- How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, "The achievement gap should be much reduced if low-income minority students were routinely assigned to such highly qualified teachers." This is a great quote to keep in mind.

This is becoming more common with the high numbers of low socioeconomic status in urban schools and the high demands and requirements for teachers. It's leading to some really unfortunate effects. Over time, the gap widens for the achievement levels when exposed to teachers that are ineffective. And this creates large insufficiencies in our students.

Let's talk about teacher certifications and teacher quality and how these relationships are. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 requires each and every student in Title I, which are the lowest of ESEA schools, to have access to highly qualified teachers. For now, the requirements have been relaxed. But this may not be the case as the No Child Left Behind changes due to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA. Under this reauthorization and Title II grant lending aimed at improving teacher quality, states have until June 2015 to present plans ensuring all students-- students across all demographics-- have access to equally highly qualified teachers.

Teachers who lack certification currently, teachers who currently work outside their certification, and teachers who chose an alternative path for their teacher certification are being looked at very closely. Concerns for these teachers are many. For example, one concern for teachers that chose alternative routes for certification is that these teachers are reportedly leaving the field of education much sooner, within five years on average. This could be due to lower pay, lack of adequate opportunities for training, and working conditions that are not up to par.

While these are unfortunate conditions for these teachers, standardized testing assessment data from NCES finds that these teachers with alternative certification that does not involve in-depth concentration on content can have negative impact on levels of student achievement. If the alternative path did include this concentration on content, the achievement data is closer to those highly qualified teachers who chose traditional programs. But there's still a gap over time. This gap can be closed with professional development opportunities that are ongoing, as well as more classroom and teaching experience, if the teachers stay in that profession for more than five years, that is.

The rate for teachers leaving the field is 49% for teachers entering the profession by means of alternative routes versus 14% for teachers that entered by means of traditional routes. This is after only five years. You can see that there's a huge difference in burnout between these two types of teachers.

Let's talk about teacher quality and the impact and implications. The data on teacher quality mentioned in this lesson shines a light on how essential evaluation systems supporting teachers truly are. These evaluation systems are so important for teachers who are new to the profession. Remember, the greatest single impact on student achievement is teacher quality. Teacher quality by far is the most valuable resource in our schools and for our students.

So how can we get there? By using evaluation that is frequent and opportunities for self-evaluation that is consistent is one way. We can gather information and data that will, in turn, assist us in helping all teachers, including those that are new to the profession and those who struggle to meet that effective status. We can also provide these teachers more support, the support they need in order to steer clear of burnout and support for improving levels of student achievement.

Let's talk a little about what we learned today. We looked at the following question-- what is the research on the impact of teacher quality on student achievement? Today we sought to understand teacher effectiveness and how this compares to levels of student achievement. The research and data is there to support the fact that teachers who teach in low socioeconomic status and urban schools can face more demanding expectations as far as student needs without the training resources, support, and pay.

There's also a likelihood that these teachers followed an alternative pathway to reaching their teacher preparation or certification. These alternative routes often lead to earlier exit from the field, generally within five years. All of this data and research shines light on how essential evaluation systems and support for teachers are. These evaluation systems are important for teachers that are new to the profession especially.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What do you think can be done to help align expectations and teacher preparation? What are the benefits to obtaining teacher certification and preparation through a traditional route?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Understanding Teacher Effectiveness and Student Achievement. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Teacher Effectiveness and Student Achievement”


(00:00- 00:20) Introduction/Objectives

(00:21- 01:03) Teacher Quality Criteria

(01:04- 03:17) Teacher Quality and Socioeconomic Status

(03:18- 05:34) Teacher Quality and Certification

(05:35- 06:28) Teacher Quality and Impacts/Implications

(06:29- 07:22) Recap

(07:23- 08:04) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence

This article by Linda Darling Hammond connects teacher effectiveness to student achievement. The research in this article is cited in her most recent text, The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (2011).

Teachers Matter: Understanding Teachers' Impact on Student Achievement

This publication offers a review of research outlining the impact of teacher effectiveness on student achievement. It emphasizes the need to carry out teacher evaluation practices to develop highly-effective teachers.

MET (Measures of Effective Teachers) Project

This is the official report of The MET Project, a research partnership between 3,000 teacher volunteers and independent researchers. The project's goal was determine how to measure teacher effectiveness through evaluation in a way that could help teachers become more effective in turn.

Multiple Measures of Effective Teaching

This Teaching Channel video outlines how teachers can improve their effectiveness through observation, coaching, and student feedback. It is aligned to the MET Project measures of teacher effectiveness.