Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Education Reform


Jay P. Greene

Committee Member

Gary W. Ritter

Second Committee Member

Patrick Wolf


Education, Rural school districts, Student achievement, Teacher certification, Teacher quality, Value-added


Using a unique dataset, this dissertation analyzes the relationship between observable teacher characteristics and teacher effectiveness. Effectiveness is measured as a teacher's ability to improve student achievement on a standardized test. This analysis focuses on teachers of math and science at the elementary and middle school levels, as well as teachers of algebra, geometry, and 11th grade English language arts. The sample is drawn from Arkansas, a state that has a much more rural population than other states and cities where this type of analysis has been conducted in the past. For the analysis I am unable to link teachers directly to students, but I can match teachers and students to a course within a school. Thus, I generate a value added score at the school-course level and attribute that score to each teacher in that school, who teaches that course. I then regress observable teacher characteristics on the school-course value-added measure. In this way, I analyze the relationship between of a host of characteristics and student achievement. The observed characteristics include: certification route, licensure exam scores, experience, graduate degrees, and in some cases college degrees. I conclude with policy recommendations.