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Teacher certification and academic growth among English learner students in the Houston Independent School District

Region:
Southwest
Description:
This study assesses whether a teacher’s certification type (that is, being a certified bilingual teacher or a certified English as a second language [ESL] teacher) and route to certification—alternative, postbaccalaureate, traditional, or additional exam—correlate with academic growth and growth in English proficiency among English learner students in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The student sample consisted of HISD students in grades 4 or 5 during the 2005/06–2014/15 school years who were classified as English learner students, participated in HISD’s bilingual or ESL program in grades 4 or 5, and had Spanish as their home language. Data from the four most recent cohorts (2011/12–2014/15) were used for the analyses of mathematics and reading outcomes using the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) assessment program. All cohorts were used for the analyses of the English proficiency outcomes using the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System assessment. The corresponding teacher sample consisted of HISD teachers who taught mathematics or reading to the student sample described. The study used student achievement models, sometimes called value-added specifications, to examine whether specific teacher certification types and routes were associated with larger achievement gains.

For math, having a teacher with bilingual certification was associated with higher student growth in achievement in grade 4 but lower growth in achievement in grade 5 compared with having a teacher without bilingual or English as a second language certification. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the alternative route was associated with the highest growth in achievement in grade 4 math. For reading, having a teacher with bilingual certification was associated with higher student growth in achievement in grade 4 compared with having a teacher without bilingual or English as a second language certification. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the traditional route was associated with the highest growth in achievement in grade 4 reading. For English proficiency, having a teacher with bilingual certification through the postbaccalaureate route was associated with the highest student growth in grade 4. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the alternative route was associated with the highest growth in English proficiency in grade 5.

Given the inconsistent results, there are no clear implications for practice. Additional research might investigate alternate methods for identifying which teachers are effective.
Publication Type:
Making Connections
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
February 2018
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