Highly Qualified Teachers, Is That Enough?


This is literature review of the teacher qualification, leadership skills, standards consolidate of information from various literature written by different groups. We are going to differentiate between the teacher’s qualification, which is a level requirement and the teacher’s quality, experience in disseminating information. In addition, we shall summarize the stipulations of different scholars and organizations literature.

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The analysis of highly qualified teacher is through characteristics such as occurrence of numerous denotations of professional teaching information’s, criteria of policy making, preparation of curriculums. James Banks, Gloria Ladson –Billings, Carl Frant, Valerie Ooka Pang, and Christine Sleeter and other leading multiculturist have shed lied on diversity frameworks and social changes in standards in learning environment. Usually education programs are prepared and governed by the teacher qualification. A teacher with less or proper qualification may not be able to prepare a relevant program for learning environment.

These multiculturism is playing an important role in the formation or determination of the qualification of the teacher. Although these important components is missing from national teaching standards. The characteristics of a highly qualified teacher are taking a new dimension in the United State of America because of school reform and the introduction of direct instructions in schools.

The government of US to improve and define a characteristic of a highly qualified teacher the department of education in the year 2001 implemented what is called No child is left behind. This program is where the government reduces federal funds to hire qualified teachers who need some specific competence and qualification. No child left behind emphasizes on qualification as a tool for school reform, however this is not the case. In 1987, they government had formed national board of professional studies which was meant to address the problem of poor teaching that was reported in the United State leading to the risk of poor failure (Buday & Kelly, 1996).

Collection of theories and secondary sources

The researcher will use books available in the university in collection the literature. The computer la will pay an important role in access other scholarly written articles. Therefore, the process of gathering articles and other forms of literature will be done primarily the frequent use university facilities. Research on internet was done through a funnel manner by using key words highly qualified teacher. In addition, the government and state documents have been used extensively as supplementary source during the search of information.

No Child Left Behind and Highly Qualified Teacher

With the introduction of no child left behind act by President Bush government, where the act stipulates that highly qualified teacher should instruct every classroom in the united state of America, a question arises. The act does not in any way satisfy scholars, educationist and policy makers as what it means by highly qualified teacher. In normal circumstances, one will take a teacher with enough experience in areas of specialization, his qualification and certification and other forms of qualification as a divination of highly qualified teacher. No child left behind has given other factors, which are used in defining the highly qualified teacher.

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In reforming the American education system, the president and the federal education policy makers thought it wise to introduce the idea of highly qualified teacher. Highly qualified teacher alone cannot be a source of school reform. In school reform, leadership in schools and method of instruction in schools are other factors that need to be considered in forming school.

When you are talking to the members of the public about highly qualified teachers, you may mean something else as though if you are speaking to educators and policy makers. This calls for proper definition as to who is highly qualified teacher. According to no child left behind act, highly qualified teacher is a teacher who holds bachelors degree or higher from a recognized institution and has taken courses which has content of the subject he is teaching.

It goes ahead to stipulate that this person must have a teaching license in order to be qualified as a highly qualified teacher. The reasons behind existence of co knowledge in teaching is to ensure what the said highly qualified teacher has been prepared in effective teaching methods, has techniques of classroom management , has knowledge in lesson and assessment development. Highly qualified teachers are the most important to the American society today than ever if high standard of education is to be achieved. (Cavaluzzo, 2004; Goldhadheber, Perry & Anthony, 2003;Vandervoort, Amrein –Beardsley, & Berliner, 2004).

Highly Qualified Teacher

The definition of a highly qualified teacher, which is legal, is in no child left behind. and is applicable to all levels of education is as the teacher who have obtained full state certification as a teacher or has passed the state teaching licensing examination and holds a license to teach in such a state and the teacher has not had certification or license requirements being waved on an emergency, temporary or provisional basis.

This definition has exceptional for charter schools teachers where the definition of highly qualified teacher is a person who owners a bachelors degree and has demonstrated by passing a rigorous state tests subject to knowledge and teaching skills in writing, reading, mathematics and other basic elementary school curriculum. For middle level secondary school highly, qualified teacher means a teacher with a bachelors degree and as demonstrated a high level of competence in each of the academic subjects in which he is teaching.

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He must have passed a rigorous state academic subject test in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches or successful completion in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches, of an academic major, a graduate degree, course work equivalent to an undergraduate academic major or advanced certification or credentialing.

For the purpose of this paper, a highly qualified teacher for those who teach elementary, middle or secondary levels is the one who holds at least a bachelors degree, has certification for teaching, and has competency in the subject he is teaching.

The main purpose of no child left behind act is to ensure there is high improvement in academic standards in the United States. This is the reason why we have defined a highly qualified teacher based on experience, certification, teacher content knowledge, teacher grade and salary and the teacher’s professional development basis.

In their work Corcoran, Evans & Schwab, 2002; Ferguson &Ladd, 1996; Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin, 1999; Lankford, Loeb, &Wyckoff, 2002 have argued that the quality of the teacher can be measured using the test scores of students. However, there are many imperfections in measuring the student’s cognitive and high order thinking skiis, which makes test scores as an effective way of measuring quality teacher. Academic achievement although viewed as the best way of evaluating and defining the best teacher, other quantifiable aspects of teacher quality should be defined which includes quality of teaching.

Research carried out by National Research Council (2001), upon having analyzed the standards developed by the teaching commissions for highly qualified teachers, judged NBPTS has to be the model framework. However, disparity and ambiguity are illustrated by NBPTS’s emphasis on the value of diversity and NCLB’s circumvention of the issue. Such incongruity makes it difficult to teacher’s qualifications to verily classify them simply as unqualified. Under qualified, qualified, or highly qualified. In addition, conservatives have used the standardization and testing of content knowledge as a means of quelling the multicultural movement and it emphasize on social justice and diversity (Bohn & Sleeter, 2001).

To help close the gap in the determination of effective teaching, we methodologically identified and compared the various and distinct definitions. The National Research Council (2001) conducted an analysis of the leading national boards of professional teaching standards (all identified herein). they found that the use of a consensus model in developing teacher standards resulted in several central themes: teachers are committed to their students and students’ learning have deep subject matter knowledge; teachers manage and monitor student learning; teachers and reflective about their teaching contents and methods; and teachers are members of a broader community. A more comprehensive review illustrates that these themes are interwoven throughout the fabric of the history of education.

Rarely is multiculturalism addressed in the standards. As school-based diversity experts, we recognize that the deeper issue of values inherent in the very selection of criteria is cause for concern. Power, epistemology, and decision-making shape this contentious process-“to choose a definition is to plead a cause” (Zarefsky, 1986).

Thomas and Shubert (2001) believe that professional standards not only promote the “bureaucratization of teaching” but also skew the nation’s ability to distinguish a quality teacher. Consider how exemplary qualifies of teaching are identified- in relation to the limited lenses of teacher certification and qualification and student achievement on standardized tests. Excluded are the critical, democratic vision of educators ant the capacity to “challenge social assumptions about what is worth knowing” (Thomas & Schubert, 2001).

Despite the confusing and often interchangeable use of qualification and quality studies policy reports, qualification underscores teacher preparation, certification, and credentialing whereas “teacher qualification” does not automatically substitute for “quality teaching” while qualifications may be indicators of quality teaching, they fall short of being synonymous with because a qualified teacher is not necessarily an educator of quality. In this article qualified is chosen over quality, except where distinctions are helpful.

Ingersoll (1999) points out that because children are required to be in school and their parents are held legally responsible, the state must ensure that educators are qualified. However, little agreement exists about those characteristics that best define a qualified teacher beyond standards set by national teaching commissions. While some teaching commissions accede as to standards of a highly qualified teacher, conservative political groups are in strong dissention. Such groups of major influence and leading spoke persons e.g. Edward Benette, Chester Finn, E.D. Hirsch, Education secretary Rod Paige, Diane Ravitch describe traditional credentialing processes as obstacles that prevent talented entering teaching and liberal social agendas and distracting from students achievement (Concra Smith & Fries, 2001).

Quality of Teaching

The idea of being highly qualified is good but we should also consider the quality of teaching in schools while defining highly qualified teacher. In his paper, Rischardson argued, “Quality teaching consists of both good and successful teaching. By good teaching, we mean that the content taught according with the disciplinary standards of adequacy and completeness, and that the methods employed are age appropriate, morally defensive and undertaken with the intension of enhancing the learners’ competence with respect to the content studied. By successful teaching, we mean that the learner actually acquires to some reasonable and acceptable level of proficiency. what the teacher is engaged in teaching.

Such learning is more likely to occur when teaching is joined with three other conditions (willingness and effort, social surrounding and opportunity). Viewing quality teaching in this way permits us to isolate the various factors contributing to teaching, and proceed to make an appraised of these different factors.”

The main purpose of teachers is to provide the test to their student to produce responsible students to the American public. Therefore, quality of teaching cannot be measured using the definition available in no child left behind act. The morality of teachers and quality of teaching will also be affected by the morality of teacher themselves. For example, assume a teacher who is teaching a history class at one topic he engages students on techniques of rioting, rooting without being apprehended, killing and even cheating whether the teacher imparting this knowledge is highly qualified or not the quality of knowledge he is imparting to the young minds is not quality but destructive.

This also applies to a teacher who is teaching a multi racial class and he teaches children on how to practice racialism r biased against a certain race is not imparting a quality education. Another example of quality education is where a teacher is using an orthodox means or method in teaching students such as threatening the children if that do not submit, offering illicit favors to good performers is not quality teaching.

The Historical Context of Standardization Qualified Teaching

The hallmarks of highly qualified teachers have evolved over time and been linked to political climate (Tyack & Cuban, 1995). During conservative periods, quality and competition are stressed, whereas educational access and equality come to the fore in liberal eras. For example, African-American liberal scholar Ladson-Billings (1995) has favored culturally relevant pedagogy as a characteristic of accomplished qualified teachers, manifested where students learn to both accept their cultural or ethnic identity and critically regard inequities in schooling and society. Regardless of the trend of the time, however, definitions of highly qualified teachers clash at any given point. Prevailing ideologies, controlling and competing interest groups, and lag time in societal changes can largely account for these conflicts.

The debate over the attribution of student success is embodied in Coleman’s (1996) assertion that a child’s background influences learning more than the quality of the teacher or curriculum. Likewise, Jencks’ (1972) groundbreaking work claims that social class and intelligence largely predetermine academic success. The findings of these controversial studies were contested by Rosenshine and Furst (1973), whose meta analysis underscored that qualified teachers made a positive different in student achievement and that these individuals were adaptable, tolerant, impartial, and challenging. Coleman (1996) and Jenks’ (1972) claims were so strong refuted that a Nation at Risk’s linking of student achievement to teacher quality and economic prowess found fertile soil upon which to take root.

A Nation at Risk has significantly influenced educational reform, redefining standards of excellence for teachers and schools. The NCEE’s report to president Reagan on the state of education boosted the accountability movement by holding teachers responsible for showing quantifiable mastery for student achievement. A Nation at Risk implied a direct correlation among student test scores, the country’s economic health, and the quality of the teaching workforce. Economic decline was powerfully associated with the nation’s dwindling test scores and weakened global stronghold, igniting debate about raising expectations for educational standards, and particularly highly qualified teaching.

NCEE’s findings led to the redefinition of teacher quality based on the belief that teacher education programs offer poor academic training and that the nation’s teachers are in “the bottom quarter” of graduates. The report recommends that teachers have in-depth knowledge of their subject area for standardized test scores to improve, and students’ test scores will improve if teachers are qualified. The NCEE’s new standards stress measurement, yet critics attest that the report provides poor guidance concerning the problems inherent in tests and the setting of norms for gauging achievement (Hogan, 1985).

The national commission on teaching and Americas future (NCTAF) (1996), citing the NBPTS as the benchmark for accomplished teaching, set goals for National Board Certification for all teachers across the U.S NCTAF’s model experts the interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) to create performance credentials for teacher licensing to measure when standards are met. In addition, the model features the NBPTS’s professional certification granted for those teachers designated accomplished.

NCATE (2002) endorsed NCTAF’s (1996) model of teacher quality and the connection between NCATE and NBPTS. NBPTS’s advanced certification was deemed the authoritative measure for judging whether a teacher was highly accomplished. While the NBPTS has been praised for its consensual definition of accomplished teaching, opposing voices declare that proficiency in teaching is just too idiosyncratic to standardize and quantify (Paige, 2002).

Reaction to the NBPTS Standards

As the NBPTS standards, for identifying qualified teaching has gained political stature has become a lightening rod for criticism from two groups. Curriculum and political conservatives (Knowledge and testing-centered) and to a far lesser degree, curriculum and political progressives (process and learner-centered) who emphasize a greater role for social justice. The Fordham Foundation, a vocal conservative think tank, protests that highly qualified teachers do not fit the NBPTS criteria.

The contention is that good teachers focus on content, not on suspect liberal practices promoting diversity. Those rejecting the Fordham Foundations position question the NBPTS’s ability to identify highly qualified teachers for National Board Certification. Irvine and Fraser (1998) view these standards as excluding the padeological approach of highly qualified African American teachers.

Despite the NBPTS’s claims that only teachers deemed the most accomplished are presented for the board’s review, 89% of African American teachers fail to satisfy the criteria. The concern that minority teachers could be disadvantaged because of the direction of the NBPTS national certification standard was voiced early on. Gordon (1988) reacting to the Carneage Report A National prepared and the Holmes Group’s Tomorrows Teachers, projected that the educational reform of teaching would reflect the dominant culture’s self-interests.

Nevertheless, despite conflicting opinion consensus has growth that accepts NBPTS certification as Prima Facie evidence that a teacher is highly qualified (Darling-Hammond, 1999)

Models of highly qualified teachers characteristics

To push to quantify student achievements as a means of proving the quality of teaching has stimulated the development of value-added models that appeal to policy makers, mentioned previously. the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System is a clear example in which outcomes purport to discern teacher quality, Sanders and Horn (1998) argue that the Tennessee model confirms that teacher effectiveness has a stronger influence on increasing student performance than class size, ethnicity, or economic status. Proponent’s belief that comparing scores for the same student grants grater validity (eg Rothstein, 1999).

Sander’ own model is based on the notion that education can be compared to manufacturing process where each step adds value to the raw product. This assumption underlies the accountability systems for measuring each child’s progress against him or herself in the nation’s schools.

The capacity of schools to weigh teacher quality with student achievement greatly appeals to policy makers. Secretary Paige (2002) has praised the Sanders’ model for quantifying the cumulative effects of unavailing teachers on students’ achievements. For critics, however, this process of identification is suspect. For high stakes testing is rooted in the supposition that overall student achievement can be extrapolated from higher test scores. The very meaning of test performance has, some contest become distorted (Herman 1997).

Some consider teacher quality a complex for statistical study. Collision (1999), for instance, defines teacher quality not as a technical, observable phenomenon but as a complex human system that intelligence theories capture. Here, the highly qualified teacher is guided by emotional intelligence in creating a climate for harmonizing people and valuing diversity (Goleman, 1995). In comparison, Darling-Hammond’s (2000) national-level statistical analysis found a significant correlation between teacher preparation and certification and student achievement.

Highly Qualify Teacher and Successive Teaching

The main purpose of highly qualified teacher is to impart good knowledge to students therefore a successful teacher must have some qualities, which will enable him to improve the students achievements. A highly qualified teacher must have the following characteristics for successive teaching:

Highly qualified teacher and experience

The teachers experience is paramount in the students performance whether highly qualified or not, but from the definition at the beginning experience is another factor to be used in measuring the highly qualifies teacher. The teachers experience is a massed by the number of years one have in the profession of teaching and always it is the determining factor in the teaches remuneration. The teachers experience is an important valuable factor in analyzing the students’ performance, which is in turn a good measure of a highly qualified teacher. It has been researched and found out that the higher the experience a teacher has the better the grades the children gets.

Ferguson (1991) researched and detailed that the teachers experience is inverse to the students’ achievement. The higher the experience the teacher has the better the students’ achievement. This means that the teacher experience accounts a great percentage of the performance of students.

Ferguson and Ladd (1996) and Goldhaber researched and detailed that after five years of teaching experience the teacher will improve the performance of the children thereafter and additional, years will not add some value to the students academic performance. This means that although experience is considered as a paramount characteristic of a highly qualified teacher it reaches a point where the number of years in the profession that experience alone ceases top be an important factor. This can be illustrated in the graph shown below.

Highly qualified teacher and experience.

From the graph we can learn that the students performance increases as the number of years of experience of the teachers increases but it reaches a point where the increase reaches an optimal point which if one wants to change and have increase further training is needed. In their work Grissmer, Flanagan , Kawata & Williamson (2000) found out that teachers experience plays an important role as compared to qualification.

Nye Konstanttopolous & Hodges 2004 also detailed this, in their research. They went further to measure their results in the form of numerical figures. At the end of their research, they concluded hat there was great difference tin the performance of students in school, which was relating to the teachers experience. Greenwald, Hedges & Laine argued that if resources were to be used in selecting teachers then their level of academic qualification should be put into consideration since the teachers experience was of paramount importance.

From this literature, relating to teachers’ experienme we can conclude that highly qualified teachers is not enough without experience. This need to be formulated and indicated in the no child left behind act. This literature has found out experience to be part of the greater requirement for a highly qualified teacher.

Content Knowledge

A teacher’s content knowledge becomes more crucial the higher the grade level the teacher teaches. As content material becomes more complicated, so does the need for a teacher with a stronger grasp of the content material to be taught. Content knowledge is important in the elementary grade levels, but a more general sense of all school subjects is needed given the self-contained structure of the typical K-5/6 classroom. Content knowledge is of greater importance in the middle/junior high school and high school levels given the stronger content skills required to teach concepts that are more difficult effectively.

What we know from the research is that students learn more from teachers with stronger academic skills. Summers & Wolfe (1977) found that teachers who received their bachelor’s degrees from more esteemed colleges or universities promoted greater gains in their students’ achievement. In addition, students who benefited most by teachers who attended colleges that are more reputable were students from less affluent backgrounds.

Goldhaber (2002) found that teachers’ knowledge of the subject area they teach as measured by college majors and minors, the courses taken in the subject area, and subject certification area, were significantly related to increases in student achievement, particularly in math and science. Having advanced degrees outside of subject area(s), however, was not significantly related to such gains.

Cavaluzzo (2004) found that high school math students who were taught by teachers whose primary job was not math instruction made the smallest gains of all comparable students. Having an in-subject-area teacher had the greatest effect on math achievement gains.

The Educational Testing Service found that teachers who major or minor in the subject area they teach are more likely to teach higher-order thinking skills and use authentic learning activities creating student gains in achievement (National Education Goals Panel, 2001).

Ferguson & Ladd (1996) found that the academic gains posted by students were strongly and positively related to the academic records of teachers on teacher certification tests. An increase of one standard deviation in teacher test scores was significantly related to an increase of about one-fourth of a standard deviation in student test scores.

Hanushek (1986), however, cautioned policymakers not to read too much into the certification tests used by most state departments of education to certify teachers. These tests do not unveil enough adequate information about teacher quality (LaczkoKerr & Berliner, 2002). A better measure of a teacher’s content knowledge is likely to come from the teaching candidate’s major or minor in college, his/her SAT or ACT scores and the selectivity of the college teacher candidates attended (Goldhaber, 2002). Not only does teacher experience make for an effective teacher, but being an effective teacher also depends on a teacher’s content knowledge.

Certification Status

Certification is used across all states to ensure that teachers have met at least a minimum level of teaching- or content-based standards to be a teacher. Most states require that teachers are graduates of schools of teacher education, but they do not require these colleges to be nationally accredited (Darling-Hammond, 1995). Most states also require teachers to pass state certification exams, given the grade levels or subject areas they desire to teach.

Because of America’s teacher shortage, what states have also resorted to is recruiting nontraditional candidates and offering them alternative, temporary, or emergency certificates to fill empty classrooms, usually in America’s toughest-to-teach schools.

Alternative teaching certificates are awarded after candidates participate in fast track teacher preparation programs. Granting alternative teaching certificates, it is posited, will entice people with the content knowledge deemed necessary to be an effective teacher to enter the teaching profession. They will earn alternative certifications, usually after a background criminal check and 3-8 weeks of pedagogical training –training in learning theory, teaching methods, classroom management, curriculum, lesson planning, and other training activities traditional teacher candidates learn in schools of education (The race, 2001; Zernike, 2000).

In addition, because examining the relationship between a teacher is pedagogical knowledge and student performance is nearly impossible in these types of studies, conclusions must drawn about the relationship between teacher training and student achievement from the research on teacher certification. The only difference between the two certificates included in the federal government’s definition of a highly qualified teacher – traditional and alternative certificates – is teacher training.

Thus, if any differences are found between the relationships of these certificates and increased student learning, the differences are likely due to the pedagogical training teachers with traditional certificates receive. Teachers with nontraditional teaching certificates do not have such experiences, and if they do they are short in duration lasting no more than 8- weeks. What we know from the research on this topic, albeit limited, is that the type of certificate a teacher holds matters when it comes to the relationship between teacher quality and student achievement.

Berry (2004) asserts that, although the use of nontraditional teaching certificates has diversified the teaching force and has helped to fill teaching positions in America’s most difficult schools, the teacher recruits are not the “best and brightest” candidates as expected.

Cavaluzzo (2004) found when examining the progress grade-9 to grade-10 students made in math achievement, that students with teachers who were not certified by the state made the smallest gains in achievement after being taught by under-certified teachers. “Having an in-subject-area teacher…and regular state certification in high school mathematics had the greatest effects” on high school math achievement gains

Laczko-Kerr & Berliner (2002) analyzed the differences between gains made by students in urban schools with traditionally certified, alternatively certified (Teach for America), and emergency certified primary school teachers, all of whom took and passed their state certification exam. They found students of traditionally certified teachers outperformed students of teachers with emergency certified teachers, and students in classrooms with Teach for America teachers did no better in improving student achievement than teachers with emergency certificates.

Students with teachers with traditional teaching certificates made 2 months greater gains in one school year than students with an alternative or emergency certified teacher across reading, math, and language arts.

Neither teachers with alternative or emergency teaching certificates produced academic gains comparable to teachers with traditional certificates. This is a serious issue considering the federal definition of a highly qualified teacher as having either an alternative or a traditional teaching certificate. This is also practically significant in that students in schools with teachers with nontraditional teaching certificates are most likely to encounter more teachers with nontraditional teaching certificates as they progress through school, snowballing the effects of having poor quality or under-certified teachers over time.

Not only do teacher experience and a strong grasp of content knowledge make for an effective teacher, but being an effective teacher also depends on a teacher’s knowledge of how to teach. If the federal government continues to be more considerate of the quantity over the quality of the teachers needed to fill America’s schools, this will surely offset the government’s simultaneous pursuit of reaching higher standards. Teacher certification matters when producing student gains in achievement, and teachers with traditional certificates are best at producing such outcomes.


It is difficult to refute that salaries do not make a difference when teachers are looking for teaching positions or are looking to move to new schools in which they might teach. College-graduates who become teachers are well-aware that becoming a teacher will affect their earnings for the life of their teaching careers. Unless teachers decide to make career moves somewhere within their careers, they must concede to the fact that by no means will they ever be wealthy.

Fortunately, most teachers believe there is something more to teaching than the monies they will earn. Unfortunately, however, the salary structures of teachers across the country have diverted many, possibly very qualified candidates from choosing teaching as a profession. This has caused an exponential decline in the quality of the candidates entering the teaching field (Cavaluzzo, 2004; Finn, 2003; Kozol, 2000).

Absolute and relative wages of teachers have dropped substantially over the past 4 decades. The decline in teacher salaries is more dramatic given the increase in teacher experience and the amount of teachers earning graduate degrees (Hanushek, 1986).

Furthermore, teachers in schools with the highest rates of students in poverty earn approximately 15%-25% less, depending on teacher experience, than their peers in suburban or other schools with lower proportions of students in poverty. This is a cause of concern considering that higher salaries in schools with easy-to-teach students and lower salaries in schools with hard-to-teach students likely exacerbate the low student achievement levels inevitably found in the latter types of schools (Study of education resources, 2000; see, also, Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin, 1999; Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2002).

Research evidences that there is a significant link between salaries and student achievement. In the work of Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin (1999) they conclude that salaries have a significant positive effect on math and reading achievement controlling for student fixed effects. In addition, a salary increase causes “existing teachers to improve their performance following a salary increase”. “Taken literally, this implies that salaries raise achievement primarily by increasing the work effort of experienced teachers”.

Research also evidences that salaries, although important, are not the only reasons teachers leave schools for more desirable positions. Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin (1999) investigated how shifts in teacher salary affect a school’s teaching force. They found teacher salaries had a significant, yet modest impact on teacher mobility. In other words, salaries do matter but were not the only determinants to why teachers change teaching jobs. What mattered most when teachers made decisions to move schools were the income levels, racial composition, and achievement levels of the students in the schools to which teachers moved. Teachers moved to schools where students that are more desirable were housed (Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2002).

They also found that “teachers in schools in the top quartile of real salaries are 3 percentage points less likely to exit the public schools and almost 1 percentage point less likely to switch districts than teachers in the bottom quartile schools. Teachers in the top salary quartile are also somewhat less likely to switch schools within districts”.

Nonetheless, Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin (1999) conclude that salary raises work in two ways. As mentioned, they work, modestly, to draw higher quality teachers into schools or districts, and they work, considerably, in increasing student achievement scores and by encouraging current teachers to improve their own performance as teachers.

What we know from the research is that salaries make a difference when teachers choose teaching and when current teachers move to teach elsewhere. Salaries also matter inadvertently in that a positive relationship between salary and student achievement exists. Salaries matter most, however, when teachers who experience increases in salary exert more effort towards teaching.

Although no current federal legislation exists to increase teacher salaries, this would be a desirable outcome given what the research says. The positive effects an increase in teacher salaries might have towards meeting the higher standard provisions written into NCLB is arguably substantial.

Master’s Degree

In NCLB, a highly qualified teacher is defined as having at least a bachelor’s degree. Because all teachers across the country have at least a bachelor’s degree, it is impossible to assess the effects that teachers with and without bachelor’s degrees might have on student achievement absent any type of a control group. Therefore, the only way in which we can test whether a teacher’s degree matters in producing greater achievement gains is by examining the effects teachers with and without master’s degrees or higher might have on student achievement.

The relationship between whether a teacher has earned a master’s degree or higher and student achievement is frequently examined because the data are easily accessible – a teacher’s degree is used as part of school districts’ salary calculations.

What we know from the research is that the relationship between whether a teacher has earned a master’s degree and student achievement is of questionable significance and is probably the weakest predictor of student achievement gains examined within this review. Goldhaber (2002) found that having advanced degrees outside of the subject area(s) in which a teacher teaches is not significantly related to gains in student achievement.

Ferguson (1991) discovered that whether a teacher holds a master’s degree is least related to gains in students’ math and reading achievement, albeit the relationships are significant. Ferguson & Ladd (1996) verified Ferguson’s (1991) earlier findings. Hanushek (1986) found that degree level has negligible effects on student achievement. Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin (1998) seconded Hanushek’s (1986) finding adding that in the policy arena merit pay should not be awarded to teachers with master’s degrees in general education, counseling, or the like given such degrees did not directly impact gains in student test scores.

The only master’s degrees, which made a difference in student achievement, were master’s degrees in the content areas taught. Grissmer, Flanagan, Kawata & Williamson (2000) also found that teachers with master’s degrees did not produce achievement gains greater than teachers without master’s degrees. Acquiring master’s degrees, particularly if they were not related to the content area(s) teachers taught, did not raise student achievement levels.

The relationship between teacher degree and student achievement is weak and of questionable significance. The work of Hanushek, Kain & Rivkin (1999) evidence this most clearly and add to the thinking on this issue suggesting that teachers should refocus their efforts from getting advanced degrees in general education to more content specific master’s degrees. This may also be more desirable given master’s degrees in content specific fields will probably assist teachers in meeting the higher standards at the crux of NCLB.

In short, advanced degrees do seem to matter if the advanced degrees are specific to a teacher’s content or specialty area. This makes sense, particularly given the prior discussion of the importance of a teacher’s content knowledge in raising student achievement.

Codification of highly qualified characteristics

Because of the fragmentation arising from innumerable definitions of exemplary teaching, legislative bodies codified what become known as “highly qualified” the federal government’s No child left behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was birthed, mandating that, as of 2002 all title funded states comply with its definitions of “highly qualified” and all teachers in core academic areas, including those in non-title I schools, conform to those standards by 2005. The NCLB(2001) defines highly qualified as being licensed through a state certification process. New hires minimally require a bachelors degree and satisfactory exam results and secondary teachers, a university degree or advanced certification. Here U.S Congress has set the bar, prioritizing superior content knowledge over pedagogy and other areas of expertise (Paige 2002).

In 1980, legislation dealing with highly qualified teaching produced the Florida Education Standards Commission (1999), policy recommendations followed the better preparing Florida’s educators and established three proficiency levels. Pre professional, professional, and accomplished. After satisfying requirements for postsecondary training teachers at the professional level are expected to display certain behaviors, which accomplished individuals should demonstrate at advanced levels? Such educators support student success in two ways: with various assessment strategies and through behaviors exhibiting understanding of individuals, cultural background, learning styles, and special needs.

A review of the practices associated with accomplished (highly qualified) teachers suggests that a broad-based approach be employed in Florida. Calls for teaching conduct that demonstrates a value multiculturalism are not limited solely to a single diversity standard; instead, these are women throughout. An example indicative of the integrated “across all standards” approach to multiculturalism is found in an accomplished practice statement concerning

  1. demonstration of respect for diverse perspectives,
  2. information-rich knowledge of non-English speaking persons.(FESK, 1999).

On note, the Florida department of education (n.d) appears to give all standards equal attention. For example, highly qualified teachers may place the same value on the celebration of diversity as on the comprehensive knowledge of a subject, contrary to the NCLB (2002).


The issue of highly qualified teachers is currently being differently than has been historically the case. Highly qualified teachers must teach an increasingly diverse student population while meeting intellectually rigorous standards and achieving higher credentials. In many states, practicing teachers are expected to demonstrate proficiency by showing improvement inn student scores on high –stakes tests.

As of the 1990’s, the national spotlight on teacher effectiveness as quantifiable has become more glaring. At the same time, the very emphasis on multiculturalism that is needed within our increasingly diverse schools has declined (Bohn & Sleeter, 2001). open debate about these salient issues in education would help to shed light during the next phase of the accountability movement and policy reform.

Toward the end, our review has asked the unsettled, if not unsettling question, what constitutes a “highly qualified” teacher? Further investigation could result from a détente between the conservation group, which gets the bar at the same height for all students, and the progressive group, which stresses the valuing of diversity and addressing the inequities inherent in such areas as funding, class size and access to technology. It may be from the emerging negotiated space that the characteristics of a highly qualified teacher can gain greater support from conflicting communities.

Criticisms of secondary sources

The research used was not up to date however some of articles works reviewed or adapted were containing relevant literature for this theme. One major deficiencies noticed in the articles was the absence of the relationship between quality teaching and market highly quailed teacher. Notwithstanding all this criticism, they formed the important part of this thesis and have contributed positively to this research.


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Corcoran, S.P., Evans, W.N., & Schwab, R.S. (2002). Changing labor market opportunities for women and the quality of teachers 1957-1992. National Bureau of Economic Research: Cambridge, MA. Web.

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