teacher turnover, student achievement, teacher quality, middle school, mathematics, equalization


The purpose of this study was to examine the backgrounds and experiences of middle school mathematics teachers that often distinguish "quality" teachers, including certification, experience, degree type, and degree level and how those demographics and others vary for different types of schools. The emphasis was on profiling teachers in a large urban district by describing their basic features and distributions, as well as how middle school mathematics teachers, according to those differences, relate to student mathematics achievement, teacher attrition and teacher mobility. Student achievement was measured by test results from the Norm Reference Test-Normal Curve Equivalent (NRT-NCE) mathematics portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for two school years (2003-04 and 2004-05). A variety of analytic approaches and methods were used to examine how different teacher characteristics relate to teacher employment patterns and student achievement, including chi-square, Kruskal-Wallace, Mann-Whitney U, ANOVA, and t tests, together with simple descriptives and graphical analysis. Standard multiple regression was used to evaluate whether students' previous test scores and teacher- and school-level predictors could affect the results of students' mathematics achievement. A short survey was administered, which provided some insight to ascertain whether and why teachers choose among schools when seeking employment. A total of 282 teachers and 24,766 students were included for the final analysis. This research revealed high rates of teacher turnover and deficient numbers of well qualified mathematics teachers for this particular demographic. For example, one in three middle school mathematics teachers was in their first year, and over half (55%) had less than three years seniority. It was also apparent that, because of a shortage of well-qualified mathematics teachers, many new teachers were being hired out-of-field--of those first-year teachers, only about half had certification in their content area and most (67%) did not have a degree in mathematics or mathematics education. Middle schools in this district had lost 29% of the mathematics teacher workforce employed the previous year due to mathematics teacher attrition. Of those many resigned, some came back to teach another subject at the same or different middle school, and others transferred to high schools. An additional 5% transferred to other middle schools within the same district bringing the total turnover to 34%. Findings revealed no significant differences in turnover rates in high-poverty versus low-poverty schools, but there were significant differences in the proportions of movers, leavers, and stayers in schools according to whether or not a school was achieving high-standards in mathematics. Although inequities did exist in favor of schools with less at-risk students, in this district--for the most part--teachers were fairly distributed according to the "quality" of their backgrounds and experiences. The only significant gap was in that students in wealthier schools were more likely to have a mathematics teacher with a higher degree. This study also offers results that further understanding on the debate about which attributes of teachers are most likely to translate into effective-classroom performance. When analysis was performed at the student level, the findings revealed that students of middle school mathematics teachers with higher seniority, advanced degrees, or certification in the content area that they taught, performed significantly higher than students in other classrooms. Yet the magnitude of those differences was either modest or very small. When controlling for students' socio-economics status at the classroom level, differences were not significant for seniority or advanced degrees but the results were significant for certification.

Graduation Date





Hynes, Michael


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Teaching and Learning Principles

Degree Program









Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)