Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Bagaka's, Joshua

Subject Headings

Elementary school teachers -- United States, Teachers -- Training of -- United States, Science -- Study and teaching -- United States, Science education, elementary education, teacher characteristics, teacher qualifications, teacher education, education policy, multilevel analysis, middle school education

Abstract

The No Child Left Behind Act mandated every student be taught by a highly qualified teacher (HQT). Criteria to determine if teachers meet the HQT mandate fail to account for differences in grade levels, subject areas, and student demographics. This study posited that the relationship between measures of teacher quality and student achievement vary according to contextual factors. Fifth grade is unique in that it marks students' transition from upper elementary to middle school grade levels thus, fifth grade may be classified as either an upper elementary grade or middle grade. This classification determines HQT requirements specifically, classification affects the level of content knowledge teachers must demonstrate to satisfy the HQT mandate. Middle level teachers are specialists and required to demonstrate content knowledge (CK) in the subjects they teach. However, the relationship between teachers' level of content knowledge and fifth grade student science achievement is poorly understood. This study examined measures of teachers' qualifications as predictors of average student achievement. In addition, examination of gender and socioeconomic status (SES) explored how teacher qualifications differentially impact various student subgroups and impact achievement gaps. A multilevel analysis examined student gender and SES as level-1 predictors of science achievement aggregated teacher characteristics at level-2 predicted changes in gender and SES achievement gaps. Findings revealed teacher qualifications that predicted fifth grade science achievement differed from qualifications that predict student achievement in other subject areas. Teachers' time spent at professional development and level of job enjoyment significantly predicted changes in student science achievement. The relationship between professional develop and achievement implicated the need for fifth grade teachers to possess content knowledge. The unanticipated finding of a strong correlation between teachers' job enjoyment and student

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