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Title page for ETD etd-12202013-013510

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Peng, Xiao
Author's Email Address pengxiao_art@163.com
URN etd-12202013-013510
Title Three Essays in Teacher Value Added: Teacher Assignments from the Self-Contained Classroom to the Subject-Specific Classroom
Degree PhD
Department Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dale Ballou Committee Chair
Jason Grissom Committee Member
Matthew Springer Committee Member
Michael Podgursky Committee Member
  • Elementary School
  • Specialization
  • Specialists
  • Self-Contained
  • Value-Added
Date of Defense 2013-12-06
Availability unrestricted
Elementary school teacher certification is for generalists prepared to teach in self-contained classrooms, but those generalist teachers are not equally effective in teaching all core academic subjects. Prior studies have documented mixed school organization structures (i.e., both self-contained classrooms and departmentalized organizations) in upper elementary grades 4 through 6. Specialization becomes increasingly widespread as the grade level goes up.

Previous research has provided evidence on the potential of using teacher value-added measures to make personnel decisions. Often, researchers assume that principals do not use teacher value added to decide who will teach and what grades and subjects those teachers will teach. Using a rich longitudinal student- and teacher-level statewide dataset from Tennessee over nine school years, this dissertation applies a variety of modeling techniques to analyze the following research inquiries. This first essay tests a hypothesis concerning whether a teacher’s value added predicts teacher assignments in elementary schools. At the same time, managing teacher assignments (i.e., self-contained versus subject-specific assignments), to some extent, may result in some structural changes in the school organizations. The literature is inconclusive about the effects of organizational structures on elementary school student achievement. The second essay then analyzes whether specialization has raised student achievement. Lastly, little research has focused on how to make decisions on teacher assignments if principals use teachers’ past value added. The third essay will answer what would be the maximum potential gains in mathematics achievement that can be achieved through specialization in elementary schools. Overall, this dissertation makes a strong and promising contribution to the research on (1) school organization in elementary schools, (2) the application of teachers’ value-added data in making school personnel decisions, and (3) the impact of managing teacher assignments on student test scores especially allowing teachers to teach their area of specialty.

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