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A “Best Fit” Approach to Improving Teacher Resources Jennifer King Rice University of Maryland.

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Presentation on theme: "A “Best Fit” Approach to Improving Teacher Resources Jennifer King Rice University of Maryland."— Presentation transcript:

1 A “Best Fit” Approach to Improving Teacher Resources Jennifer King Rice University of Maryland

2 Five Questions 1. Why focus so much attention on teacher resources? 2. What does existing research say about teacher resources? 3. What is the range of policy responses to improve teacher resources? 4. How can policymakers make wise investments? 5. How can policymakers make effective decisions that incorporate contextual considerations?

3 Q1: Why focus so much attention on teacher resources? Cost: Single largest investment in public education amounting to $200 billion in 2002 alone Impact: Researchers, policy makers, and the general public all agree that teachers are the most important school-based factor in realizing student achievement.

4 Nonetheless, key questions exist regarding teacher resources: What makes a “quality” teacher? What should states think about as they struggle to comply with No Child Left Behind requirements regarding “highly qualified” teachers? What investments can/should states make toward improving teacher resources? How should teacher resources be distributed across states, districts, and schools to achieve equity and adequacy goals?

5 Q2: What does existing research say about teacher resources? Recent effort to distill the evidence on teacher quality and qualifications Starting point – Are qualified teachers really quality teachers? Are hiring and compensation policies that reward certain qualifications the equivalent of investing in teacher quality? Does hiring and retaining qualified teachers lead to improvements in student achievement? FOR MORE INFO... Rice, J.K. (2003) Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes. Washington, D.C. Economic Policy Institute.

6 Current conclusions from the research: “Inconclusive and inconsistent evidence” “No systematic relationship between educational inputs [teacher resources] and student achievement” Teacher variable Number of estimates Positive and significant Negative and significant Statistically Insignificant Education program 1719%5%86% Experience20729%5%66% Teacher test score 4137%10%54%

7 Criticisms of Hanushek’s approach: “vote counting” methodology that doesn’t consider size of estimates or design of studies “weighting” of the studies limited to production function studies

8 Studies included in the review: Empirical Relationship between teacher qualities and their performance Peer reviewed (mostly journals) Past three decades Public education in the U.S.

9 Wide variety of studies included in the review: Multiple outcomes Range of methods Five teacher attributes

10 Teacher attributes included in the study: Teacher experience Teacher preparation program and degree Teacher certification Coursework taken by teachers in preparation for the profession Teachers’ own test scores

11 Findings: Teacher experience The evidence reveals a positive relationship between student achievement and teacher experience. At the elementary level, this relationship is most evident during the first several years of teaching. Estimates of the effect of teacher experience on high school student achievement suggest that experience may have a more sustained effect, continuing later into teachers’ careers.

12 Findings: Teacher preparation program and degree The evidence is mixed regarding the degree to which teacher education programs contribute to teachers’ knowledge. Evidence suggests a modest positive effect of institutional selectivity on student performance at the elementary level, and a positive effect at the high school level. Studies of extended teacher education programs reveal positive effects on entry into the profession and retention rates, but no clear impact on teacher performance. Studies of advanced degrees have found a positive effect of subject-specific advanced degrees on student achievement (only for h.s. math and science).

13 Findings: Teacher certification Studies have demonstrated a positive effect of certified teachers on high school mathematics achievement when the certification is in mathematics. This subject-specific teacher certification effect is less obvious in other high school subject areas, and is zero or even negative in elementary level math and reading. Studies of emergency or alternative route teacher certification have shown little clear impact on student performance in high school mathematics and science, relative to teachers acquiring certification through standard channels.

14 Findings: Teacher coursework Coursework in both pedagogy and content areas has a positive impact of student achievement. - Pedagogical coursework matters at all grade levels - Coursework in content areas is most apparent at the secondary level. Field experiences tend to be disconnected from the other components of teacher education programs. Despite this, studies suggest positive effects in terms of opportunities to learn the profession and reduced anxiety among new teachers.

15 Findings: Teacher test scores The research suggests that some test scores seem to predict levels of teacher performance and desired educational outcomes. - Tests that assess the impact of literacy levels or verbal abilities of teachers tend to show positive effects. - In contrast, studies of the impact of the NTE and other state-mandated tests of basic skills and/or teaching abilities report mixed findings.

16 Findings with respect to minority and disadvantaged students: The positive effect of highly qualified teachers appears to be more pronounced for minority and disadvantaged students, with respect to some teacher attributes: selectivity of the higher education institution they attended degrees test scores

17 General findings More refined measures of what teachers know and can do Interactive nature of various teacher qualities and qualifications Teaching context matters

18 Limitations and caveats Teacher attributes vary across time and place Findings are based on reported statistical significance Significant gaps exist in our knowledge base

19 Implications for policy Teacher quality is important Many current teacher policies are based on thin or no empirical evidence Teacher policy should reflect a balance between higher standards and deregulation

20 Q3: What is the range of policy responses to improve teacher resources? Economic incentives Changes to teacher preparation programs Reform of teacher hiring process Initiatives designed to make schools better places to work

21 Q4: How can policymakers make wise investments? Need to weigh costs and effectiveness of various alternatives. Must work within budget shortfalls Consider possibilities for resource reallocation Target interventions Be aware of total policy context –Complementary policies –Competing policies

22 Q5: How can policymakers make effective decisions that consider contextual factors? Three step decision-making framework: Identify the problem using adequate data about state and local teacher resources Understand available policy alternatives and how they complement or compete with each other or policy contexts Examine the cost-effectiveness of the “package” of policies that might be implemented

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