The relationship of student and teacher variables on academic achievement in Florida schools

Nancy A Watkins, Florida International University


Since 1995, Florida has been one of the leading states in the country initiating a high-stakes school accountability system. Public schools in Florida receive letter grades based on their performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). These school grades have significant effects on schools' reputations and funding. Consequently, the plan has been criticized for grading all schools in the same manner, without taking into account such variables as student poverty and mobility rates which are beyond the control of the school. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of student variables (poverty and mobility rates) and teacher variables (average years of teacher experience and attained degree level) on FCAT math and reading performance. This research utilized an education production function model to examine which set of inputs (student or teacher) has a stronger influence on student academic output as measured by the FCAT. The data collected for this study was from over 1500 public elementary schools in Florida that listed all pertinent information for 2 school years (1998/1999 & 1999/2000) on the Florida Department of Education's website. It was concluded that student poverty, teacher average years of experience and student mobility taken together, provide a strong predictive measure of FCAT reading and math performance. However, the set of student inputs was significantly stronger than the teacher inputs. High student poverty was highly correlated with low FCAT scores. Teacher experience and student mobility rates were not nearly as strongly related to FCAT scores as was student poverty. The results of this study provide evidence for educators and other school stakeholders of the relative degree to which student and teacher variables are related to student academic achievement. The underlying reasons for these relationships will require further examination in future studies. These results raise questions for Florida's school policymakers about the educational equity of the state's accountability system and its implementation.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|School administration

Recommended Citation

Watkins, Nancy A, "The relationship of student and teacher variables on academic achievement in Florida schools" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3130423.