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IES Grant

Title: Do Lower Barriers to Entry Affect Student Achievement and Teacher Retention: The Case of Math Immersion
Center: NCER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Wyckoff, James Awardee: State University of New York (SUNY), Albany
Program: Improving Education Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $428,473
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305E060025
Description:

Purpose: School districts across the U.S. are struggling to recruit and retain good math teachers. The problem is felt most acutely in difficult-to-staff schools as their experienced math teachers are drawn to more attractive jobs in other schools. In response to these shortages, New York State has been experimenting with the Math Immersion program, a variant of alternative certification that allows for more flexible entrance requirements for math teachers. In particular, Math Immersion recruits individuals who were not math majors but who can demonstrate a background in math. Math Immersion has become a major path for recruiting new math teachers to New York City public schools. However, little is known about what impact these teachers have on student learning relative to other math teachers employed in New York City. The goal of this research is to analyze how student test-score gains in mathematics are related to teacher certification pathways, teacher characteristics, and other explanatory variables.

Project Activities: The researchers will compare math teachers with differing certifications across two outcome dimensions: teacher retention and student performance. Specifically, the researchers will compare Math Immersion teachers to teachers who: enter teaching in New York City through traditional preparation programs; complete alternative certification programs where teachers meet the traditional requirement of having a math undergraduate degree; go through other certification routes; or are uncertified.

Products: The products of this project include published reports on the relation between teacher certification pathways, teacher retention, and student achievement in mathematics.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The goal of this research is to analyze how student test-score gains in mathematics are related to teacher certification pathways, teacher characteristics, and other explanatory variables.

Setting: This project will rely on individual-level administrative data characterizing the backgrounds, qualifications, and career histories of aspiring and practicing teachers; individual-level administrative data on the achievement scores and sociodemographic backgrounds of students; interview and administrative data describing teacher preparation programs in detail; and administrative and other data characterizing the schools in which teachers teach. Data providers include the City University of New York, the New York City Department of Education, and the New York State Education Department.

Population: The research team will examine data from 2000-2007 that includes all or virtually all of the following: individuals who have participated in teacher preparation programs at the City University of New York; individuals who have taken teacher certification exams, and their scores on every exam taken in New York State; individuals who have applied for teacher certification in New York; individuals who taught public school in New York City and elsewhere in the State; and students in grades 6-8 who have taken mathematics exams in New York City.

Intervention: Math Immersion recruits individuals to teach math in New York City public schools who were not math majors but who can demonstrate a background in math. Other mathematics teachers enter teaching in New York City through traditional preparation programs, complete alternative certification programs where teachers meet the traditional requirement of having a math undergraduate degree, go through other certification routes, or are uncertified.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will compare Math Immersion teachers to math teachers entering through other pathways on their background and preparation, retention, and students' math achievement. For each New York City teacher, the researchers will observe their retention status with respect to both quits and transfers. For teachers in grades 6-8, they will observe each of their students' math achievement scores as well as students' scores from previous years, permitting the use of gain scores.

Key Measures: The research relies heavily on student mathematics achievement tests in the analysis of how test-score gains are related to teacher certification pathways, teacher characteristics, and other explanatory variables.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multiple empirical strategies to identify the relation of Math Immersion to student achievement and teacher retention In general, they will address the issue of teacher retention using a competing risk hazard model of the math teachers' decisions to stay, transfer, or quit. They will examine the relation of Math Immersion to student achievement using several different models employing student math gain scores that take advantage of different identification strategies.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Hammerness, K., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Ronfeldt, M., and Wyckoff, J. (2012). Recruiting Effective Math Teachers: Evidence From New York City. American Educational Research Journal, 49 (6): 1008–1047.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Education Policy, Finance, and Systems in FY 2006.


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