A Teacher’s Education And how it Affects Student Learning

In 2005, the U.S. will have over 54 million children in schools and teachers will total 3.5 million.  To keep up with this number, 200,000 teachers will need to be recruited annually.

The inability to produce this many is causing states to issue emergency certification programs lasting only 4-8 weeks and then throwing these teachers into schools, many of them inner-city.  But even with the No Child Left Behind policies in place, America is still severely lacking in achievement levels and grades then other countries.  This is because the level of education a teacher has influences how well a student achieves and teachers are not getting the proper training or education needed.

There are statistics coming out that show that a student’s achievement really relies on what a teacher’s educational level is.  Research shows that the quality of teaching is actually the largest school related factor associated with achievement.  A study in Tennessee and Dallas showed that a good teacher could raise a child’s grade by a whole level over the course of a year.

The good grades were found to be cumulative, showing kids who had a good teacher for three straight years rose from the 59th percentile in fourth grade to the 76th percentile in the sixth grade.  But kids that had teachers, who were classified not as effective as the first group, went from the 60th percentile in fourth grade to the 42nd percentile by the time they reached sixth grade.  (Robert Rothman, 2004.)

As America grows, it’s no surprise that more kids are coming into the school systems.  The problem is that universities can’t produce enough teachers to keep up.  That is a reason why 41 states have developed Alternative programs aimed at getting people a teacher’s certificate in four to eight weeks.

These programs train a person in basic training for the classroom, basic training on how to make lesson plans and they reduce the requirements for state licenses, so that they can be hired for an emergency.  The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence’s “Passport to Teaching Certification” reduce the time a person spends studying to teach.  It also eliminates practice teaching in a classroom.  Since teaching requires practice and mastery of the subject, without practice teaching, the person just gets rushed through to the real classroom.

Teach for America gives students a summer crash course in teaching and then gives them a class, usually inner city, the following fall.  They have an astronomical 75% turnover rate though!  Most emergency hiring happens in inner-city schools, which means that these very basically trained teachers are thrown in the most disadvantaged schools.  (Reg Weaver, 2004.)

A national sample of teachers showed that if they had lower academic qualifications, they were less likely to stay teaching.  80,000 teachers have come out of these alternative programs, but only 40% have stayed teaching past year three.  Statistics are supporting that the “strongest negative predictor of a state’s student achievement are the proportion of new teachers who are uncertified and the proportion who hold less then a minor in the field they teach.”  (quote1.)

At the annual American Educational Research Association meeting in 2004, they brought to light that Kindergarten kids are scoring 1.26 test score points lower with teachers who were issued an emergency license them by a fully-certified teacher.  The American Institute for Research also found that 8th graders scored 9% higher in math if they had teachers who specialized in math and had a certificate in math.

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