results from these questionnaires, along with each student’s science score on Florida’s state accountability test, were compared for students taught by board-certified and nonboard-certified teachers. Results generally favored the board-certified teachers, with their students having more positive attitudes and higher science scores.
There are important limitations to these findings, however. The way in which teachers were recruited to participate in the study may have introduced biases, and no efforts were made to control for differences between students assigned to board-certified teachers and nonboard-certified teachers. The authors did not adjust for classroom clustering; thus the significance tests they performed overstate the differences between board-certified and nonboard-certified teachers. This study is described in more detail in Appendix A.
Our search of the literature base revealed 11 studies on the relationship between board certification and outcomes for students, far more than we found for any other question on our evaluation framework. For the most part, however, the studies were based on data from only three states—most studied teachers and students in North Carolina, three drew their samples from Florida, and one used data from California (Los Angeles). The only exceptions were two relatively small-scale studies conducted in Arizona and Tennessee that had serious methodological limitations. Furthermore, nearly all focused on achievement test results in mathematics and reading, and most restricted their samples to students and teachers in the elementary grades. We are hesitant to generalize these findings to students and teachers in other states, subjects, and grades.
The committee noted two paths that future research might take. One path would be replication of the Florida and North Carolina studies in more states, content areas, and grades. The committee recognizes, however, that when moving beyond the elementary grades, each student is taught by many teachers, which complicates the teacher attribution that is needed for this kind of research. Furthermore, many states may not have the extensive administrative data sets of teachers and students that are maintained in Florida and North Carolina.
The second path is to examine other student outcomes. Test scores are a narrow conception of student learning, and the standardized test data currently available are primarily scores on tests designed to measure mastery of state content standards, not teaching skills. It may be that the skills board-certified teachers have to demonstrate have impacts on other outcomes that are not detected on accountability tests. We encourage different approaches to the research that focus on different outcomes.