The effect of teacher certification on student achievement
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The purpose of this study was to review the empirical research evidence on the effect of teacher certification on student achievement. An exploratory meta-analysis was conducted on studies that examined the effect of fully certified and less-than-fully certified teachers on student achievement. The meta-analysis focused on the areas of mathematics, science and reading and explored trends across areas of achievement, school level and research design. The study was directed towards (a) a synthesis of findings, and (b) recommendations for future research and policy decisions.The meta-analysis population consisted of five individual studies that generated twenty-seven effect size estimates. Three studies utilized either an individual level or class level of analysis and yielded twelve mean difference effect size estimates. Two studies utilized either a school or state level of analysis and yielded fifteen correlational effect size estimates. The majority of findings in mathematics favor the positive effect of fully certified teachers. In science, the findings pointed towards equivalent levels of student achievement for fully certified and less-than fully certified teachers. All the findings associated with reading favored the positive effect of fully certified teachers. It appears that certification may be more crucial to student achievement in reading and mathematics than in science. Across school levels, the overall trend suggests that full certification may be more crucial to student achievement in elementary school than middle or high school. Across levels of analysis and research design, studies that utilize an aggregate level of analysis yield a greater number of positive study outcomes than designs conducted at the individual or class level. A key finding is that given the specifications of the meta-analysis, direct evidence of the relationship between certification and student achievement is limited to five peer-reviewed, published studies. Additional findings illuminated several issues that are vital to improving the quantity and quality of research on teacher certification. Eight specific recommendations were directed towards academic researchers who plan to study the topic. Four recommendations are directed towards policy-makers at the state and federal level who are involved in setting standards and planning legislation for educator preparation.