Does teacher preparation affect student achievement? Gary T. Henry ...

Feb 7, 2011 - Boyd, Donald, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff. 2009. Teacher preparation and student achievement ...
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Does teacher preparation affect student achievement?



Gary T. Henry, Department of Public Policy & Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Charles L. Thompson, College of Education, East Carolina University & Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kevin C. Bastian, Department of Public Policy & Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill C. Kevin Fortner, Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill David C. Kershaw, Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kelly M. Purtell, Population Research Center & Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin Rebecca A. Zulli, Carolina Institute for Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Corresponding author: Gary T. Henry, MacRae Professor of Public Policy Carolina Institute for Public Policy and Department of Public Policy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 122 Abernethy Hall, CB# 3435 Chapel Hill, NC 27599‐3435 919.962.6694 (voice) 919.962.5824 (fax) [email protected]



Manuscript submitted to Education Finance and Policy, February 7, 2011.

The authors are grateful for comments and advice provided by Alisa Chapman, Alan Mabe, Ashu Handa, Doug Lauen and the deans of colleges and schools of education in North Carolina; and assistance from Jade Marcus, Adrienne Smith, Elizabeth D’Amico, and Rachel Ramsay. This research was funded in part by the University of North Carolina General Administration Teacher Quality Research Initiative.

Does teacher preparation affect student achievement? One interpretation of recent research on teacher effectiveness is that teachers matter but teacher preparation does not. However, some comparisons that have been interpreted to pertain to teacher preparation have compared traditional and alternatively certified teachers, which reflects a teacher’s status at a particular point in their career, rather than the preparation they received prior to beginning teaching. In this study, we estimate the differences in adjusted average test score gains of students taught by teachers who entered teaching from twelve distinct “portals,” which are combinations of formal education and other preparation to teach. The main findings are: teachers prepared in out of state undergraduate programs are less effective than teachers prepared in the public institutions within the state in five of 11 comparisons, including elementary mathematics and reading, where out of state teachers constitute the largest source of teachers; lateral entry teachers are less effective in three of 11 comparisons, including high school overall, where they are the largest source of teachers, high school social studies and high school science; Teach For America corps members are more effective in five of nine reliable comparisons, including high school overall, mathematics, science, and English 1 as well as middle school mathematics.

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1. Introduction One stylized but common interpretation of current research on teacher effectiveness is that teachers matter but teacher preparation does not. For example, Gordon, Kane, and Staiger (2006) examined recent research on the teacher labor force and recommended that entry into teaching be opened to anyone with a college degree and requisite subject matter knowledge. They further recommended that tenure be granted on the basis of teachers’ effectiveness in producing test score gains in their first two years on the job. This could reduce barriers into teaching, but would risk opening the door to more individuals who are unprepared to teach. In fact, the barriers into public

school classrooms have been substantially reduced in recent years (Boyd et al. 2009). In North Carolina, for example, 14% of the public school teachers in 2007‐08 first entered the classroom as lateral entry or