Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 68(1) 102–116,2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article investigates the relationship between the structural features of middle grades teacher preparation programs (TPPs) and student achievement gains in math and English/Language Arts (ELA), focusing on teachers recommended for initial licensure, prepared in University of North Carolina (UNC) system institutions.
The participants were 248 middle school math and 175 ELA teachers from 15 middle grades teacher preparation programs in North Carolina.
The author used a three-level hierarchical linear model (HLM). HLM accounts for repeated observations of the same individual and the nested structure of the data: students are nested within classrooms, which are nested within schools.
The findings reveal that subject matter has a negative relationship to middle grades mathematics achievement but no relationship to student achievement for ELA.
Further, there is a negative relationship of full-time student teaching responsibility for mathematics and no relationship for ELA. Similarly, there is evidence of a negative relationship of early fieldwork hours to mathematics achievement, but no relationship to ELA achievement.
Across subjects, there is more common ground in the features of teacher preparation for which there is little evidence of a relationship to achievement than for features that have the same relationship for both subjects: the evidence does not support a relationship in either subject of minimum observations during student teaching or a student teaching seminar to mathematics or ELA achievement. Importantly for middle grades teacher preparation, there is little evidence that courses in educational psychology and adolescent development are related to student achievement gains, in spite of the importance placed on understanding how to work with young adolescents. However, no program requires more than one educational psychology course and one adolescent development course.
As there is evidence that middle grades teachers do not receive sufficient preparation in developmentally appropriate instruction and it may be the case that middle grades teachers are not receiving enough preparation in these areas to detect a relationship.
This study suggests that a requirement for a specific course in technology could be eliminated and content pertaining to the use of technology in the classroom integrated throughout other coursework. Additionally, while structural features may not be directly related to student achievement gains, they may be related to other desirable outcomes such as to teachers’ attitudes toward and treatment of their students, teacher observation scores, or teacher retention, particularly in schools with students from a diversity of backgrounds.