lated with higher numbers of teachers with emergency permits in that school, and (3) higher average student scores in a school correlated higher levels of education among the teachers in that school. After controlling for socioeconomic status, Fetler concluded that student achievement in mathematics significantly correlated with teacher experience and preparation.

As a result of his study, Fetler (1999), commented, “After controlling for poverty, teacher experience and preparation significantly predict test scores” and “Schools with higher percentages of teachers on emergency permits tended to have lower achieving students in mathematics.”

In light of the positive impact of infield teaching on student achievement, why is out-of-field teaching so prevalent and what might be done to curtail the practice? This report examines that issue more fully in a subsequent section on recruiting teachers and staffing schools (see Chapter 6 “Other Benefits of Partnerships for Teacher Education in Science and Mathematics”).


Studies of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)7 also point to the importance of teachers’ levels of content preparation. Although the NAEP is designed primarily to determine how U.S. students are doing in various subjects at grades 4, 8, and 12, recent NAEPs also have collected some data about the teachers whose students took these examinations (e.g., Hawkins et al., 1998). The 1996 data show a statistically significant correlation coefficient of 0.26 between the percentage of students whose teachers have a college major in mathematics and the average mathematics scores of those students (Hawkins et al., 1998). Hence, there is some evidence to suggest the position that the more well versed a teacher is in the subject, the better his/ her students do on this type of standardized examination. Hawkins et al. (1998) concluded that, “At the eighth-grade level, students who were taught by teachers with teaching certificates in mathematics outperformed students


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) conducts assessments of samples of the nation’s students attending public and private schools at the elementary-, junior-, and high-school levels. NAEP collects and reports information about the academic performance of American students in a wide variety of learning areas, including subjects such as reading, math, science, writing, world and U.S. history, civics, and foreign languages. NAEP uses a complex matrix sampling design in order to cover a broad array of topics. The design allows for reporting of aggregated results for various population groups, but no individual results are reported.

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