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Effects of Teachers' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching on Student Achievement

Abstract

"Acting on the assumption that improved teacher knowledge will yield gains in student achievement, scholars and policy-makers have focused increasing attention and resources on improving teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. Content-focused professional development, mathematically-supportive curriculum materials, and redesigned pre-service preparation programs are all examples of this effort. However, few studies have empirically demonstrated that teachers' mathematical knowledge is related to student achievement, especially at the elementary level. Further, existing studies have neglected to explore key questions about how this relationship is constituted.

Using data from students, teachers, and schools participating in a large study of comprehensive school reform, and using novel measures that capture both common and specialized mathematical knowledge for teaching, we explore the degree to which teachers' mathematical knowledge contributes to gains in student achievement. We find a positive effect of teacher mathematical knowledge on first and third graders' gain scores. We investigate the linearity of this relationship, discuss other findings from our models, and suggest implications for policy, professional development, and further research."

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