Teacher Quality and Student Test Scores

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This chart shows how various indicators of teacher quality were related to 8th grade students’ performance on the mathematics and science portions of the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The percentages indicate how far ahead or behind their grade-level peers the students scored.

Aspect of Teacher Quality

Difference in Scores


Major/minor in math/math education 39%
Professional development in working with different student populations 107%
Professional development in higher-order thinking skills 40%
Hands-on learning 72%
Higher-order thinking skills 39%
Using portfolios and projects instead of tests -46%


Major/minor in science/science education 39%
Professional development in laboratory skills 44%
Professional development in classroom management -37%
Hands-on learning 40%
Giving frequent tests 92%
SOURCE: "How Teaching Matters: Bringing the Classroom Back Into Discussions of Teacher Quality,” Educational Testing Service. (Requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader.)

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