Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen


Highly qualified teacher (HQT) has been promoted as a policy instrument to improve our public education. In this study, I investigated the quality of public school teachers by examining the distribution pattern of highly qualified teachers across school level, urbanicity, minority student population, and core academic fields. I also investigated what teacher characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, total years of teaching, certification, bachelor's degree in mathematics and sciences vs. in other areas, teaching level) predict highly qualified teacher status after controlling for school characteristics (% of minority students, % of free and reduced-price lunch, school size, and school location). Finally, I investigated the relationship between highly qualified teachers and the composite variables of job commitment and job satisfaction.

In this study a highly qualified teacher holds a bachelor's degree, a full state certification, and teaches at least 50% of classes within his or her major. I analyzed data from the 2007-2008 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) for public school teachers. Descriptive statistics were used to identify teacher characteristics. Chi-square tests were used to examine the distribution of HQTs. Logistical regression was used to determine the predictability of HQT status based on teacher characteristics. Lastly, hierarchal linear modeling (HLM) was used to study the effect of HQT status on job commitment and job satisfaction.

The following were the major findings. First, results revealed secondary teachers had a significantly lower proportion of highly qualified teachers than elementary teachers. Suburban teachers, teachers of English and language arts, natural sciences, and mathematics and computer science, had high rates of HQT. The lowest HQT rate was in the vocational, career, and technical area. Second, the status of HQTs was associated with older teachers, male teachers, experienced teachers, teachers having a bachelor's degree in mathematics and sciences, and teachers with advanced, regular or provisional certification. A surprising finding within the category of school characteristics is related to the percent of minority student enrollment—the higher percentage of minority students corresponds with a higher percentage of HQTs. Finally, HQT status was not significantly predictive of teachers'job commitment, but the relationship trended such that unqualified teachers were somewhat less committed. HQT status was a significant, positive predictor of teachers' overall job satisfaction. Policy implications were discussed based on the findings.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access