Effects of Teacher Credentials, Coursework, and Certification on Student Achievement in Math and Reading in Kindergarten: An ECLS-K StudyReport as inadecuate

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Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness

In light of the strong correlation between Kindergarten performance and later cognitive and achievement outcomes, this paper investigates the link between student achievement and the educational background characteristics of Kindergarten teachers. This study will utilize the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a nationally representative dataset, in order to address the following questions: (1) Does a teacher having a master's degree or higher have a positive effect on student achievement gains in reading and math in kindergarten compared to teachers with only a bachelor's degree?; (2) Are there effects of teacher coursework in reading, math, and child development on student achievement gains in kindergarten? If so, do impacts of coursework on reading and math scores vary by number of courses taken?; and (3) Do regular and highest certification levels for teachers have a different effect on student achievement gains than no certification or alternative certification? Does being certified as an early elementary school teacher matter for student achievement? Additionally, this study will analyze students who score in the bottom 25% of all students on the initial tests of reading and math to see whether teacher educational background characteristics make a differential impact on students that begin school at the bottom of the achievement spectrum. The ECLS-K started to track students in the 1998-1999 school year and tracks them through eighth grade. However, for the purposes of this study, the data will only be looked at for the Kindergarten year of 1998-1999 where tests and surveys were administered in the Fall of 1998 and Spring of 1999. The findings of this study suggest that most teacher credentials, or degrees, appear to have little impact on student achievement in reading or math in Kindergarten with some small significant effects (See Tables 2 and 3). This is consistent with the findings of others (Darling-Hammond, Berry, and Thoreson, 2001; Goldhaber and Brewer 1997). However, some previous studies such as Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor (2007a) actually found negative effects of high-level degrees on student achievement, which was not the case in this study. The quantity of teacher coursework had mixed effects on student achievement (See Table 4). Regarding math achievement, teacher coursework in math and child development appeared to have no significant effects on math test scores. While the school level variable model does show significant results for math courses on student achievement, the school fixed effects model does not, suggesting that there are unobserved characteristics of schools that are not being accounted for in the school-level variable model. These findings are consistent with Croninger, et al. (2007) findings of no effects of teacher coursework on math achievement. The findings also suggest that the math and child development courses taken by kindergarten teachers are need improvement. Perhaps math courses in teacher education programs are not useful for kindergarten teachers if teachers from many grades are taught together. Teacher certification also appears to have a mixed effect on student achievement (See Table 5). Highest and temporary levels of certification appear to have a negative effect on reading and math test scores. However, the fixed effects models show no effects of highest or temporary certification on reading and math, but the direction of the coefficient is still negative. The findings also suggest that alternative certification has no effect on math scores, which contradicts the findings of Lutz and Hutton (1989). Elementary certification has a significant positive effect on student math scores. Certification in other education levels may not touch upon aspects of behavior, development, and other skills that are especially important in Kindergarten. This relationship of elementary education certification and math should be explored further to help identify the aspects of elementary education certification that may have an impact on teaching students math in Kindergarten. (Contains 5 tables.)

Descriptors: Credentials, Teacher Education Programs, Elementary Education, Achievement Gains, Mathematics Achievement, Academic Achievement, Mathematics Tests, Program Effectiveness, Kindergarten, Grade 8, Teacher Certification, Reading Tests, Educational Attainment, Child Development, Early Childhood Education, Teacher Effectiveness, Preschool Teachers

Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail: inquiries[at]sree.org; Web site: http://www.sree.org

Author: Leak, James A.; Farkas, George

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=2193&id=ED518799

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