May 2008

Yikes, the teachers aren't certified
I have a friend who insists that research shows that teacher certification means nothing. He's not the only one.

I thought I would throw out there the correlation numbers for St. Louis County school districts between the certification rate and the median math score on the Terra Nova for third graders: .72 (excluding Special School district).

Occasionally districts will hire someone who will finish certification within a specified time frame because they believe that teacher is an excellent choice. This may especially be true in some of the more specialized areas. My theory is that the difference between 100 percent certification and 99.4 isn't much. When I sorted by certification percentage and only checked the correlation of districts below 99 percent, the number decreased slightly to .70. However, by using only the districts below 98 percent, it increased to .76. It stayed the same for under 97 percent

The highest correlation numbers I found were when sorting for median score and then only using the lower numbers.

So schools with a lower median Terra Nova math score in third grade highly correlated with certification rates. Maybe some time I'll run more numbers to see if this holds up both with other grades and other content areas.

Correlation numbers are far from conclusive but do show an area in which to do more precise research. Does this only work in an area with competing districts? Within a larger district? Over an entire state? What areas are the non "highly qualified" teachers teaching in? Enquiring minds want to know.

(Numbers from DESE)