Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Measurement and Evaluation

Major Professor

Dedrick, Robert F.

Co-Major Professor

Ferron, John

Keywords

ILS, methods of teaching, teacher quality, certification

Abstract

Teaching vacancies are increasing nationally and the task of placing an experienced, subject-certified teacher in the classroom is getting more difficult for school districts. About 23% of all secondary teachers do not have a minor in their main teaching field. This is true for more than 30% of mathematics teachers and the proportion of such teachers is much greater in high-poverty schools and lower-level classes. In schools with the highest minority enrollments, students have less than a 50% chance of getting a science or mathematics teacher who holds a license and a degree in the field which he or she teaches. While placement of probationary teachers may help to relieve the shortages of licensed teachers, school districts should consider the consequences of placing these teachers in the classroom. One solution school districts have looked to is the use of technology.

The Integrated Learning System (ILS) is a virtual classroom which may offer a solution for school districts not able to fill teaching vacancies with a fully prepared teacher. The focus of this study was on the impact of the ILS and teachers' mathematics preparation on 8th grade student achievement. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze existing data. The participants included 1223 students in 76 classes taught by 30 teachers. The results indicated that 8th grade student achievement in ILS classes was significantly higher compared to classes not using the ILS. When teachers' preparation in mathematics was added in to the model, the impact of the ILS was reduced. Results from this study suggested that the ILS may be beneficial for MJ-3 students and that the ILS may offer school districts an alternative technique in raising student mathematics achievement, specifically with low-income or minority students.

In addition, the ILS may be a practical solution for school districts when dealing with teacher vacancies in mathematics classrooms. In regard to teacher preparation, the results from this study confirm the importance for school districts to hire mathematics teachers with knowledge of mathematics content and pedagogy; support the belief that alternative certification programs should emphasize pedagogy; challenge state licensing boards' option of certifying teachers without documentation of completed subject area courses; and support NCTM's vision of a well-prepared mathematics teacher.

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