Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness.

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Abstract

Recent debates about the utility of teacher education have raised questions about whether certified teachers are, in general, more effective than those who have not met the testing and training requirements for certification, and whether some candidates with strong liberal arts backgrounds might be at least as effective as teacher education graduates. This study examines these questions with a large student-level data set from Houston, Texas that links student characteristics and achievement with data about their teachers' certification status, experience, and degree levels from 1995-2002. The data set also allows an examination of whether Teach for America (TFA) candidates-recruits from selective universities who receive a few weeks of training before they begin teaching-are as effective as similarly experienced certified teachers. In a series of regression analyses looking at 4th and 5th grade student achievement gains on six different reading and mathematics tests over a six-year period, we find that certified teachers consistently produce stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers. These findings hold for TFA recruits as well as others. Controlling for teacher experience, degrees, and student characteristics, uncertified TFA recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers. TFA recruits who become certified after 2 or 3 years do about as well as other certified teachers in supporting student achievement gains; however, nearly all of them leave within three years. Teachers' effectiveness appears strongly related to the preparation they have received for teaching.

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How to Cite
Darling-Hammond, L., Holtzman, D. J., Gatlin, S. J., & Vasquez Heilig, J. (2005). Does Teacher Preparation Matter? Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13, 42. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v13n42.2005
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Author Biographies

Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. Among her many publications on issues of teacher quality, school reform, and educational equity are The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools that Work and Teaching as the Learning Profession: A Handbook of Policy and Practice.

Deborah J. Holtzman, Stanford University

Deborah J. Holtzman is a PhD candidate in the Administration and Policy Analysis program at the Stanford University School of Education. She is also a Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research. Her current research interests include accountability and alignment among instruction, standards, and assessment.

Su Jin Gatlin, Stanford University

Su Jin Gatlin is a PhD candidate in Administration and Policy Analysis at Stanford University's School of Education. She is also completing a Master's in Economics at Stanford and holds a BA in Statistics from UC Berkeley. Her current research interests include the role of wealth on postsecondary attendance and school finance reform.

Julian Vasquez Heilig, Stanford University

Julian Vasquez Heilig is a Ph.D. candidate in Administration and Policy Analysis at Stanford University. His research focuses on accountability policy and urban education.

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