Teacher certification and student achievement

Patricia Lewis Moss

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed-method study was to determine if there is a significant difference between the achievement of students who are taught by traditionally prepared teachers and that of students who are taught by alternatively prepared teachers. The study further addressed the perspectives of both groups of teachers regarding selected dimensions of teaching. The findings indicated that, overall, no significant difference existed in student achievement on MCT2 math scores for teachers who were alternatively prepared or traditionally prepared. However, there were significant differences in student achievement in grades 6 and 7 when examined by teacher preparation type. There was a significant difference in student scores based on teachers' years of experience when teacher preparation was not a factor. Students who received free/reduced lunches did not show a significant difference on the MCT2 mathematics assessments when compared to students who did not receive free/reduced lunches when they were taught by traditionally prepared math teachers. For the qualitative phase, six traditionally prepared and alternatively prepared math teachers who taught grades 6-8, were interviewed. The teacher responses were organized and corresponding themes were analyzed using a thematic code development method. The qualitative results support the notion, in part, that traditionally prepared and alternatively prepared math teachers perceived selected dimensions of teaching similarly. However, traditionally prepared teachers did not consider differentiating instruction as important as did alternatively prepared teachers. The study also addressed recommendations for policy and future research.