Middle school teachers, certification, classroom management, and student discipline : a study of early career teachers in Central Texas schools




McMurrey, Allen Lamar III

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There has been a substantial amount of research conducted that has studied teacher quality in regards to the types of certification training that a teacher received to become a highly qualified teacher. Within the research literature on this subject were arguments that supported both sides of the traditional teacher certification versus alternative teacher certification debate. While many studies have looked at test scores and student achievement as the most important aspects of teacher quality, this study explored the relationship between teacher quality as it related to type of teacher certification and their classroom management and student discipline beliefs and practices. Taken into account were the very real consequences of teachers mismanaging their classrooms by over disciplining students many of whom were disproportionately economically disadvantaged, minority, at-risk, and special education students. This study investigated traditionally certified teachers and alternatively certified teachers in four central Texas urban and suburban school districts that each served a high number of economically disadvantaged and at-risk students. The schools that were used were all middle schools. The literature that was used to develop this study revealed variances in how traditionally certified and alternatively certified teachers are studied and how they are perceived. The literature also revealed how classroom mismanagement via overuse of disciplinary referrals and suspensions for minor, discretionary infractions has had a detrimental effect on the academic outcomes of the most vulnerable students in our public schools. What this study does is add to the existing literature on teacher certification and teacher quality. How it was significant was that it stepped away from the more traditional, standardized test result based, or value added models of teacher certification studies by focusing on classroom management and discipline beliefs and practices of teachers new to the profession. This was a unique study in that it focused on the certification training and classroom management and student discipline beliefs and practices teachers new to the profession teaching in both urban and suburban middle school classrooms which served high numbers of poor, at-risk students. The study involved using a take home survey that asked teachers to provide basic demographic data about themselves, their certification programs, their challenges as new to the profession teachers, and how they felt about teaching in general. Included in the study were teacher’s responses to video scenarios of students breaking discretionary rules which they viewed in a face to face meeting in their own classrooms. The data from these were examined to discern whether or not there was a discernible difference in the way each group of teachers felt about their preparedness to teach and how they rated the infractions played out in the student video scenarios.



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