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Teacher Quality, Teacher Licensure Tests, and Student Achievement

  • Richard Buddin
  • Gena Zamarro

Teacher quality is a key element of student academic success, but little is known about how specific teacher characteristics influence classroom outcomes. This research examines whether teacher licensure test scores and other teacher attributes affect elementary student achievement. The results are based on longitudinal student-level data from Los Angeles. California requires three types of teacher licensure tests as part of the teacher certification process; a general knowledge test, a subject area test (single subject for secondary teachers and multiple subject for elementary teachers), and a reading pedagogy test for elementary school teachers. The student achievement analysis is based on a value-added approach that adjusts for both student and teacher fixed effects. The results show large differences in teacher quality across the school district, but measured teacher characteristics explain little of the difference. Teacher licensure test scores are unrelated to teacher success in the classroom. Similarly, student achievement is unaffected by whether classroom teachers have advanced degrees. Teacher experience is positively related with student achievement, but the linkage is weak and largely reflects poor outcomes for teachers during their first year or two in the classroom.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 555.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:555
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