A Standardized Exam That May Actually Be Useful In Answering Who Could Teach Algebra

My son is taking algebra in middle school. A lot of schools across the United States provide an opportunity for students who have demonstrated good performance in elementary mathematics to enroll in an algebra course in their middle school years. These students can furnish a good set of data to evaluate what teacher characteristics correlate with student performance in algebra. A study with this goal has been recently published by Marzano Research in conjunction with the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. The study looks at all middle school students who have taken algebra in the year 2015 in the state of Missouri. The data surprisingly include a substantial number of underrepresented groups as well as economically disadvantaged students. And across all students, there is one characteristic of a teacher that correlates with strong student performance in algebra. Here is the shocker: It is how much algebra a teacher knows. It is not the level of certification, it is not the highest degree (having a Masters' or Doctorate does not count), but it is a score in a standardized exam (Praxis II Middle School Mathematics) that strongly correlates with student performance in Algebra.

Above copied from the Educational Testing Service

This strong correlation between a teacher's score in this standardized mathematics exam exists for all student groups which include Blacks, Hispanics, and students who qualify for reduced fee or free lunch. The correlation is actually stronger for students with special needs as well as for children from low income families. Subject matter knowledge may not be sufficient to guarantee learning outcomes, but it is clearly a necessary component.

Who learns algebra is an important equity in education question? As important, who teaches algebra?