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TEACHER PREPARATION AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN EIGHTH-GRADE MATHEMATICS: Eighth-Grade Students Score Higher under the Tutelage of Well-Qualified Teachers

According to a new American Institutes for Research report, students whose teachers were certified or had a major or minor in mathematics scored significantly higher on the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) eighth-grade mathematics test.

The report, Prepared to Teach: Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement in Eighth-Grade Mathematics, used data on individual students and their teachers from the 2000 NAEP eighth-grade mathematics test to examine the relationship between teacher qualification and student achievement. The report focused on four specific teacher qualifications: teacher certification, academic major or minor, highest postsecondary degree, and years of teaching experience.

The mean score on the 2000 NAEP eighth-grade mathematics test was 274. While eighth graders who were taught by a certified teacher scored 277 on average, students without a certified teacher scored eleven points lower. According to the report, the estimated difference between these two groups was roughly equivalent to the estimated difference between students who were and eligible for free and reduced lunch and those who were not. In plainer terms, a low-income student with a certified teacher would, on average, score at the same level as a non-low-income student with an uncertified teacher.

Among students whose teacher had a major or minor in mathematics, the average score was 279, while students who were taught math by a teacher with an academic major or minor in a field outside of math scored dramatically lower (261), a difference of eighteen points.

Teachers with qualifications associated with higher scores were not equitably distributed among all students, according to the report. Students at the greatest risk of failure-poor students and students who were tracked into low-ability math classes-were more likely to have uncertified teachers or teachers teaching out-of-field. For example, 70 percent of economically disadvantaged eighth graders had teachers with a major or minor in math, compared to 83 percent of non-low-income students. Economically disadvantaged students were also more likely (25 percent to 13 percent) to have math teachers with a non-math major or minor.

The report also found that students who entered eighth grade with academic deficits were not likely to get the extra help they needed to catch up. In fact, these students were less likely to have a teacher with more than five years of experience teaching mathematics. They were also less likely to have a mathematics teacher with a major or minor in mathematics. According to the report, having a teacher with a major or minor in academics instead of a teacher with an out-of-field major could mean an increase of twenty-two points, on average, to a student in a low-ability class (258 average score for major/minor vs. 236 average score for out-of-field).

The complete report is available at

American Institutes for Research to Merge with New American Schools 

Earlier this month, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) announced that it would merge with New American Schools (NAS). While the full merger will not occur until early 2005, the two organizations are beginning a strategic alliance immediately. The American Institutes of Research is a leader in behavioral and social science research. New American Schools is a leading provider of professional services and investment in K-12 education. Under the merger, New American Schools will function as the consulting arm of AIR and will retain its distinct and recognizable identity in the education arena.

“With NAS we can bring the most current research results into the classroom more quickly,” said Sol Pelavin, president and chief executive officer of AIR. “AIR has long conducted important research in education with the goal of making sure their results have an impact upon student learning. New American Schools allows our findings to have a positive influence on students’ lives more quickly.”

Read the press release at


The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems Now Accepting Applications for the 2005 Urban Superintendents Academy


The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems is seeking high-achieving, dynamic executives from the corporate, nonprofit, government, military, and education sectors who have a passion for improving public education by serving as chief executive officers in our nation’s largest urban school systems for its Urban Superintendents Academy.

The academy is a rigorous, ten-month executive management program designed to prepare the next generation of public school chief executives. The academy expects fellows to move rapidly into CEO or other senior executive positions in urban school systems after graduation. To date, six fellows from the first two classes have been appointed as superintendents. Several other graduates have been hired or promoted as senior executives in large urban districts or as superintendents in smaller urban districts.

For more information, to submit a nomination, or to download an application, visit the Broad Center’s Web site, at


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