Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Elaine Walker, Ph.D

Committee Member

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D

Committee Member

Soundaram Ramaswami, Ph.D

Keywords

Teacher Practice, Teacher Evaluation, Student Growth Percentile, Value-Added Modeling, TEACHNJ

Abstract

The demand for educational accountability to improve student achievement has been the force behind education reform in recent years. On October 6, 2012, the state of New Jersey enacted the TEACHNJ Act, which reformed teacher tenure laws and required teacher tenure to be linked to their evaluation rating. To support the new tenure reform law, the state of New Jersey revamped its teacher evaluation system and developed an evaluation structure known as AchieveNJ, which allows for the use of multiple measures to evaluate teachers. These measures include components of both teacher practice and student achievement which are calculated to determine an overall summative evaluation teacher score and rating. The 2013–2014 school year was the first full year of implementation of the TEACHNJ Act and the first year the state of New Jersey provided student growth percentile (SGP) scores to be included as a calculated component in teachers’ evaluations.

The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between teacher practice and student growth. The study sought to explain the relationships between variables that predict student academic growth. Some of the essential questions regarding this research are as follows: Are teacher-level variables such as grade level taught, gender, and ethnic background significant predictors of student growth? To what extent do the following school-level variables influence student growth: school performance status (Priority schools, Focus schools, NonStatus schools) and percent of student subgroup ethnic composition? How is student growth impacted by a teacher’s effectiveness as measured by the practice score received, when one controls for teacher- and school-level characteristics?

The sample population consisted of 149 language arts (n = 149) and 145 mathematics (n = 145) teachers in grades 4–7. Each teacher in the study received a median SGP score (mSGP) of their class or course roster. The 294 teacher mSGP scores were reflective of 7,220 students who received a language arts SGP score and 7,163 students who receive a math SGP score. The study involved 30 schools with different grade configurations, performance status, and student ethnic composition.

The research was a cross-sectional study in which ordinal and logistic regression methods were used to test the relationships between the dependent variable (student growth) and independent variables (teacher characteristics, school characteristics, teacher practice). The design consists of three separate models used to answer three research questions. An ordinal regression analysis was used to analyze Model 1 (teacher characteristics on student growth) and Model 2 (school characteristics on student growth). Model 3 is the full model in which a logistic regression analysis was used to better interpret the impact of teacher practice and teacher and school characteristics on student growth. Findings from the data indicated a significant correlation between teacher practice and student growth while controlling for teacher and school characteristics.

This study will help state and district leaders evaluate the mandates put in place and will add to the body of research around teacher evaluations, specifically in urban settings where there often are many economically disadvantaged students.

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