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Teacher Training, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement

March 7, 2008
By Douglas N. Harris, Tim R. Sass

Despite decades of research, there is no consensus on what factors enhance, or even indicate, teacher quality, write Douglas Harris and Tim Sass in a working paper for the Urban Institute.

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Despite decades of research, there is no consensus on what factors enhance, or even indicate, teacher quality, write Douglas Harris and Tim Sass in a working paper for the Urban Institute. Their analysis of data from a unique database in Florida allowed them to compare student achievement based on their teachers’ professional development and training. They found that only two types of teacher training influence productivity:  content-focused professional development is positively associated with productivity in middle and high school math, and on-the-job training acquired through experience correlated with enhanced effectiveness in teaching elementary reading  and elementary and middle-school math. In short, their study supports earlier research that teacher certification, education degrees, and advanced degrees do not improve teacher quality, and indicates that focusing on content and classroom experience does. 

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Education