THE EFFECT OF TEACHER EXPERIENCE AND TEACHER DEGREE LEVELS ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS AND COMMUNICATION ARTS

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THE EFFECT OF TEACHER EXPERIENCE AND TEACHER DEGREE LEVELS ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS AND COMMUNICATION ARTS

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine whether years of teaching experience has an effect on overall achievement of students on the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program. In addition, this study examined whether a teacher’s degree level has an effect on overall achievement of students on the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program. Using descriptive statistics and factorial ANOVA, the researcher used data from both the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program exam from the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years to determine whether teacher degree level or years of experience had an effect on student achievement.

Inconclusive results indicated teacher degree level alone had no effect on student achievement. The results indicated that years of experience, as well as the interaction between years of experience and degree level, had an effect on student achievement in both communication arts and mathematics. These results provide a strong foundation for further research in which this particular study could be continued using future test score data. Additionally, it could be expanded statewide, using data from districts all across the state. Finally, this study could be changed to include the addition of other factors such as years of experience teaching a tested subject or grade level as well as specific area of degree level.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Tables...................................................................................................................................................... viii

List of Figures....................................................................................................................................................... ix

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................... 1

Background of the Study................................................................................................................. 3

Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................................... 8

Research Questions and Hypotheses.......................................................................................... 8

Significance of the Study................................................................................................................. 9

Overview of Methodology............................................................................................................ 10

Research Variables and Instrument Used.............................................................................. 11

Limitations and Delimitations...................................................................................................... 11

Assumptions.......................................................................................................................................... 12

Definition of Terms........................................................................................................................... 13

Organization of the Study............................................................................................................. 13

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE............................................................................ 15

Factors Influencing Student Achievement............................................................................ 16

Degree Level Influence in Student Achievement.................................................. 20

Years of Teaching Influence in Student Achievement....................................... 30

Importance of a Qualified Teacher in the Classroom....................................................... 34

Summary................................................................................................................................................. 39

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY............................................................... 41

Research Design.................................................................................................................................. 41

Hypotheses............................................................................................................................................ 42

Data Collection Procedures........................................................................................................... 43

Statistical Analysis............................................................................................................................. 44

Validity and Reliability................................................................................................................... 45

Summary................................................................................................................................................. 46

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS:................................................................................................................. 47

Summary of Methodology............................................................................................................. 47

Descriptive Statistics........................................................................................................................ 48

Communication Arts Results........................................................................................................ 55

Mathematics Results......................................................................................................................... 70

Summary of Chapter Four............................................................................................................. 86

CHAPTER FIVE: INTERPRETATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS..................... 92

Restatement of the Purpose.......................................................................................................... 92

Summary of Results.......................................................................................................................... 93

Discussion of Results....................................................................................................................... 98

Summary of Discussion................................................................................................................ 102

Implications for Further Research........................................................................................... 105

Implications for Practice and Recommendations............................................................ 105

Limitations.......................................................................................................................................... 106

Conclusion........................................................................................................................................... 107

WORKS CITED.............................................................................................................................................. 109

APPENDIX A: PERMISSION LETTER FROM SCHOOL DISTRICT........................ 118

APPENDIX B: RESULTS FROM FACTORIAL ANOVA,

2005-06 COMMUNICATION ARTS................................................................................. 120

APPENDIX C: RESULTS FROM FACTORIAL ANOVA,

2006-07 COMMUNICATION ARTS................................................................................. 129

APPENDIX D: RESULTS FROM FACTORIAL ANOVA,

2005-06 MATHEMATICS........................................................................................................ 140

APPENDIX E: RESULTS FROM FACTORIAL ANOVA,

2006-07 MATHEMATICS........................................................................................................ 151

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

High-quality teachers are one of the key components in successful classrooms. However, there is widespread disagreement among many in the educational community about exactly what constitutes a high-quality teacher. Is it experience? Is it degree-level? Can it even be measured by a test, survey, or questionnaire?

According to author Bess Keller, there is little disagreement that high-quality teachers make a major impact on student achievement. “The world’s top-performing school systems and those coming up fast have a lesson to teach the others: Put high-quality teaching for every child at the heart of school improvement” (1). Her conclusion was based on a 2003 report sponsored by the 30-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “School system success,” the report contends, “hinges on getting the right people to become teachers, helping them learn to teach, and crafting a system that ensures every child will get access to the teaching he needs” (Keller 1). Because high-quality teaching is so crucial to school system success, how do superintendents, boards of education, and school administrators ensure they are getting high-quality teachers in their schools?

One seemingly logical answer has dominated school system discussions: finding experienced teachers. However, according to a 2007 article by Vaishali Honawar, officials in the state of Louisiana are beginning to question that thought. “A study that scrutinizes 22 teacher-preparation programs in Louisiana says that it is possible to prepare new teachers who are as effective as, or sometimes more effective than, their experienced colleagues” (1). This comes after researchers, led by George H. Noell, a professor of psychology at Louisiana State University, examined a variety of data including student achievement, curriculum, and teacher databases. These researchers found that teachers who had recently graduated from the LSU alternative-certification programs “performed at levels 1 and 2, meaning they did better than, or as well as, experienced teachers” (Honawar 2).

If more-experienced teachers aren’t guaranteed to be better than less-experienced teachers, maybe teacher degree-level is what determines a high-quality teacher. In a 2003 article in The Gainesville Sun, author Douane D. James cited a study by Jennifer King Rice that addresses degree level as it pertains to teacher quality. According to James’s article, “Advanced degrees, particularly master's degrees, have a positive effect on high school mathematics and science achievement” (2). However, the article went on to point out this holds true “only when those degrees were earned in those subjects” (James 2). Many questions are left unanswered about the effects of a teacher with an advanced degree on students in communication arts was not addressed.

While the debate continues nationwide as to what exactly constitutes a high-quality teacher, there is little debate as to the importance of high-quality teachers. This study attempted to provide definitive answers as to the relationship of teacher experience and degree-level with student performance. Simply stated, this study addressed the question, “Does teacher experience or degree level have an effect on student achievement in mathematics and communication arts?”

Background of the Study

This study was conducted in a mid-size urban school district located in northwest Missouri. The district has three high schools, four middle schools, 18 elementary schools, one vocational school, and one alternative school, for a total enrollment of 11,513 students.

Between the school years of 2000-01 and 2006-07, the composition of the teacher population was relatively stable, while the percentage of teachers earning masters’ degrees or higher fluctuated (see Table 1). The average number of years of experience of teachers in the district from 2000-01 to 2003-04 was 14.5. In the 2004-05 school year, the years of experience declined by a full year and continued to decline. The percentage of teachers with a master’s degree or higher fluctuated, with a jump of almost 4% from the 2002-03 school year to the 2003-04 school year, a 1% drop from the 2003-2004 school year to the 2004-05 school year, and then an increase of 3.1% between the 2004-05 school year and the 2006-07 school year.

Table 2 illustrates enrollment trends that have occurred in the school district from the school years 2000-01 to 2006-07. During this time, the district’s enrollment declined by 309 students, while the diversity of the student population increased. For example, the percentage of Black and Hispanic students increased from the 2000-01 school year to the 2006-07 school year, while the percentage of white students decreased by 2%. Table 2 also shows the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. From 2000-01 to 2006-07, the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch has increased by 5%, with 54.0% of the students receiving free/reduced lunch during the 2005-06 school year, before declining to 53.6% in 2006-07.

 

  Dial 4
Table 1   
School District Faculty Information 2000-07  
    
School YearAverage Years of ExperienceMaster’s Degree or Higher (%)
    
2000-0114.646.9 
   
2001-0214.447.8 
   
2002-0314.546.2 
2003-0414.450.4 
2004-0513.649.4 
2005-0613.451.8 
2006-0713.252.5 

Source: "School Accountability Report Card." Missouri Department of Elementary andSecondary Education. 12 Dec. 2007. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 13 Dec. 2007 <http://dese.mo.gov/planning/profile/ arsd[xx] .html>.

 

      Dial 5
Table 2       
School District Demographic Information    
        
School Year,   Native Free/Red.
EnrollmentAsianBlackHispanicAmericanCaucasianLunch
        
2000-010.76.72.20.490.047.6 
N = 11,822 
       
2001-020.86.82.50.489.549.2 
N = 11,726 
       
2002-030.87.12.61.589.050.6 
N = 11,658 
       
2003-040.87.22.90.588.651.4 
N = 11,559 
       
2004-050.77.72.70.688.252.6 
N = 11,402 
       
2005-060.98.73.10.586.854.0 
N = 11,363 
       
2006-071.08.95.00.584.653.6 
N = 11,513 
       

 

Source: "School Accountability Report Card." Missouri Department of Elementary andSecondary Education. 12 Dec. 2007. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 13 Dec. 2007 <http://dese.mo.gov/planning/profile/ arsd[xx] .html>.

Every school district’s policy varies regarding the maximum number of years of experience an incoming teacher can bring to a district. Some districts allow an experienced teacher to report only a limited number of years of teaching credit, while other school districts have no limitations on the number of years of experience they accept. According to the School District Employee Handbook, the school district used in this study, acceptance of previous teaching experience for placement on the salary schedule in the school district is as follows:

Acceptance of Previous Teaching Experience - Credit shall be given for prior teaching experience outside the District, excluding substitute and apprentice teaching, to (14) years with full credit granted for the first five

  • years of experience and one-half (1/2) step/credit per year granted after five years (13).

Some would argue that in today’s world of standardized testing, student achievement would benefit from more experienced teachers in the classroom. In Mark Fetler’s 1999 study entitled, “High School Staff Characteristics and Mathematics Test Results,” he stated, “Teacher experience, measured by the average number of years in service, is positively related to test results” (10). Such claims, however, are often countered with the argument that changing such policies would substantially increase school districts’ expenses.

School districts weighing this issue must first examine how the number of years of teaching experience affects student achievement. Equally important is whether the teacher’s degree level affects student achievement. Mary J. Woolridge conducted a study in 2003, examining the differences in student achievement among students taught by teachers with a master’s degree compared to students taught by a teacher with a bachelor’s degree (6). The subjects in this study were third through eighth grade students in 12 schools in a Florida school district. The results of Woolridge’s study showed that third and fifth-grade students of master’s degree teachers achieved significantly higher results, when compared to students of bachelor’s degree teachers. Additional results from the same study found achievement to be the same, regardless of the degree status of the teacher, while middle school students of master’s degree teachers outperformed students of bachelor’s degree teachers (91-93).

In 2005, Carrie R. Ferguson studied the relationships of teacher qualifications to middle school student achievement in mathematics (5). Results from this study “indicated that only the number of years teaching middle school mathematics had a significant relationship to student achievement, with a statistical significance of p = 0.03” (77). In summary, Ferguson set her critical value at 3% (as expressed in the previous equation). Because the students’ scores in Ferguson’s research were statistically in the upper 3% range, they are judged to be so rare that the conclusion was the obtained outcome and was not due to chance but attributed to the number of years the teacher had taught middle school math.

In 2004, Donald Rugraff studied the relationship of teacher salaries, teacher experience, and teacher education on student outcomes. In his study, Rugraff found teachers’ salaries and levels of education affected student achievement, but the years of experience of teachers had little to no effect on achievement and the dropout rate (79). Both Rugraff and Ferguson’s studies looked specifically at the same variables investigated in this study.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine whether years of teaching experience affects overall achievement of students on the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program. In addition, this study examined whether a teacher’s degree level affects overall achievement of students on the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

In order to conduct the study, the essential questions that drive the research must be established. These questions not only helped focus the research but also led to a greater understanding of the importance of the research. Three research questions guided this study:

  1. Does the number of years of teaching experience affect student achievement?
  2. Does teacher degree level affect student achievement?
  3. Are there any other factors related to years of teaching experience or teacher degree level that affect student achievement?

There were six hypotheses in this study. Two of the hypotheses examined the effect of teacher experience on student achievement in communication arts and mathematics. Two of the hypotheses examined the effect of teacher degree levels on student achievement in communication arts and mathematics. The final two hypotheses examined the interaction between teacher degree level and years of teaching experience on student achievement in both communication arts and mathematics.

HO1: The number of years of teaching experience has no effect on student achievement in communication arts on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

HO2: The number of years of teaching experience has no effect on student achievement in mathematics on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

HO3: Teacher degree level has no effect on student achievement in communication arts on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

HO4: Teacher degree level has no effect on student achievement in mathematics on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

HO5: The combination of teacher degree level and years of teaching experience has no effect on student achievement in communication arts on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

HO6: The combination of teacher degree level and years of teaching experience has no effect on student achievement in mathematics on the Missouri Assessment Program exam at the 0.05 level of significance.

Significance of the Study

Most school boards adopt policies that limit the number of years of experience teachers can bring with them when they move to a new school district, while giving salary increases for the amount of graduate work they complete. Before a school district considers a policy in which it allows teachers to bring all of their years of experience with them for placement on a salary scale, it would be best to examine whether years of teacher experience and/or teacher degree level affect student achievement. Additionally, while it is common practice for school districts in Missouri to grant increases in teaching salaries for attaining advanced degrees, it is unknown whether this translates into higher student achievement. In this study, student achievement scores from the communication arts and mathematics sections of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) exam were examined at grade levels 3-8, 10, and 11 to see if teacher experience and/or degree levels affect student achievement. It is important to note that in Missouri, students in grades 3-8 and 11 take the communication arts exam and students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the mathematics exam.

Overview of Methodology

In this study, principals indicated on an Excel spreadsheet the total years in the profession and highest degree earned for teachers in their buildings. The school district’s Assessment Division compiled this data with archived student MAP test scale scores, as well as with the number of students scoring advanced and proficient on the exam. In the first component of this study, teachers were divided into four groups, based on the number of years of teaching experience: 1-4, 5-10, 11-19, and 20+. For each group and for each subject area (communication arts and mathematics), the number of students scoring advanced and proficient was divided by the total number of students tested by each group to determine the percentage of students scoring advanced and proficient on the exam. In the second component of this study, teachers were divided into two groups based on their degree level: (a) bachelor’s and (b) master’s or higher. For each group and for each subject area, the number of students scoring advanced and proficient was divided by the total number of students tested by each group to determine the percentage of students scoring advanced and proficient on the exam. In the final component of this study, a factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) was determined using student scale scores as the dependent variable and years of teaching experience and teacher degree levels as the independent variables. For those grade levels where an interaction occurred between years of teaching experience and degree level, a post hoc analysis was conducted to determine whether a significant degree of interaction occurred. Research Variables and Instrument Used

In this study, one dependent and two independent variables were identified. The dependent variable for all research questions and hypotheses was student achievement. The independent variables were teacher experience and teacher degree level. The instrument used to conduct the statistical analysis for this study was Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0. All data was loaded into SPSS in order to run the factorial ANOVA, the post hoc analyses, and percentages of students scoring advanced and proficient for each of the groups.

Limitations and Delimitations

All research must conclude that an infinite number of factors are present and cannot be taken into account for various reasons; the same holds true for this study. Several of these limitations and delimitations are self-imposed, but most are due to factors outside of the researcher’s control. However, these limitations and delimitations also help narrow the focus of the research to allow the significant numbers to be analyzed. There are four limitations in this study:

  1. Only the variables of “number of years of teaching experience” and “degree level of the teacher” were associated with student achievement.
  2. Only public schools in the mid-size urban school district are included in this study.
  3. Only Missouri Assessment Program scores from 2005-06 and 2006-07 were used in this study.
  4. Since the State of Missouri mandates the testing of communication arts and mathematics, these scores are the only ones used in this study.
  5. The study was limited to the mid-size urban school district located in northwest Missouri.

Assumptions

The following assumptions were made in this study:

  1. Graduate degrees or hours above a graduate degree were considered equal, regardless of the institution where they were earned.
  2. Teaching experience at any grade level in a public or private school was congruent.
  3. The Missouri Assessment Program is a reliable and valid system of assessments measuring student achievement.
  4. Student pre-coded test booklets indicated the correct teacher.
  5. Years of teaching experience did not take into consideration at what grade level all years were taught; rather, overall years of experience were reflected.
  6. Principals submitted correct teacher information to the Assessment Division when submitting teacher information on the Excel spreadsheet.
  7. All data entry into Excel was done correctly.

Definition of Terms

Instructor degree level: Refers to the degree attained by the instructor in four categories: bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s, and doctorate. “Graduate credit must be obtained from accredited institutions, pertain to the teaching field or to professional improvement, and must have been taken after completion of the previous degree to be accepted for salary increase purposes” (School District Employee Handbook 14).

Missouri Assessment Program (MAP): Refers to the state assessment administered to Missouri students in the spring of each year. Students in grades 3-8 and 11 are administered the MAP in communication arts. Students in grades 3-8 and 10 are administered the MAP in mathematics (“Missouri Assessment Program” 1).

Student achievement: Refers to student scale scores on the Missouri Assessment Program. Student scale scores compared to state-determined cut-scores determine whether the student is categorized as below basic, basic, proficient, or advanced (“Missouri Assessment Program” 2).

Years of teaching experience: Refers to the number of years of teaching a teacher has in the classroom setting. No less than three quarters of a school year can be counted as a full teaching year (School District Employee Handbook 14).

Organization of the Study

This clinical research study is divided into five chapters. Chapter One includes the introduction, background of the study, purpose, research questions and hypotheses, significance of the study, overview of methodology, limitations and delimitations, assumptions, and definitions of key terms. Chapter Two provides a review of the literature. Chapter Three discusses the topics of research design, population sample, hypotheses, research variables, instrumentation, data collection procedures, and statistical analysis as related to this study. Chapter Four contains all data collected and results, based on the statistical analysis conducted in the study. Finally, Chapter Five contains the interpretation of the data, its relationship with the hypotheses, and recommendations for future study.

 

THE EFFECT OF TEACHER EXPERIENCE AND TEACHER DEGREE LEVELS ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS AND COMMUNICATION ARTS

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