January 26, 2011

2009 RI NAEP Science Data: Part 2 - 4th Grade Teachers

Marc Comtois

In an earlier post I looked at Rhode Island's 4th grade student demographic data for the 2009 NAEP Science assessment and how it compared to national results. Now let's take a look at how the average 4th Grade scores compare based on various teacher qualification factors.

First up are results based on whether kids are being educated by teachers who are specialists in science instruction. The results are what you'd expect--science-only teachers get better results.


What about time in service and educational degrees? Let's say this is interesting:


Apparently, in RI, you want either a young or "old veteran" teacher with a B.S. to teach science. Middle track Masters Degree holders don't seem to do as well. I wonder why that is? It certainly departs from the national trend where more experience gets better results (what you'd expect). Yet, here in RI, it's a U-shaped curve (or a "C"). It looks like young teachers have more in common with their more experienced colleagues. So what happens in the mid-career? Do these results speaks to a particular mindset or culture amongst the 5-19 years of experience teaching co-hort? Or could it be that those teachers are also most likely to be also raising families, which distracts (maternity leave and substitutes come to mind) from continuity for students?

But there are other credentials worth looking at:


Apparently, NBPTS certification doesn't really affect scores (and has a slightly negative implication at that). On the other hand teachers that are considered Leaders in Science and who are tabbed to help with AYP/School improvements have such designations for a reason: they get results.

Finally, scores seem to indicate that an effective science teacher has taken 3 or 4 regular (I'm guessing pre-career) and 4 or 5 advanced science courses (to keep them up to speed).


So, good for you if your child's science teacher is either very young or very old, is a Leader for Science and helps with the AYP for the school and continues to stay up to speed. You've got a better than average shot at getting better than average science scores.